What does hope look like to you? Everybody has the capacity to make art. If you were in the music room, or in front of the potter’s wheel, or just with a fresh blank canvas in front of you, how would you roll up the idea of hope into an image, a sound, a poem?
I took some time to think about this myself. At first I thought of an acorn, so much like the hazel nut Julian of Norwich was shown that was everything, and so little it might fall into nothing save that God loves it, so much like the acorn I crushed under my shoe on the way to work today. Then I thought of St. Paul saying that faith was trust in things hoped for, and so how hope is like a hand reaching out into the future, grasping on to what we wish. Mostly I contemplated this small space in my chest which thinks about how many dreams I am surrounded by, that small space like an itch which makes me want to dance, and watch a great film, and go to an art gallery, and cry, and sit out and watch the leaves fall. Hope is the mad itch to live, and keep living, and find a way to live high and wild in the impossibly tall mast, taking in the swelling rise and fall of our lives. It is the first part of the ship which is our being to see the shore; it is the last part of us to sink beneath the waves. If your mind wanders here into your own visions of hope, follow where the boat of your imagination steers you.
Hope is a transitive verb. It arcs out like lightning, like an unresolved chord, like two lovers sneaking glances at one another’s lips. One needs something to hope in, hope to, or hope for. Take time to list out some of the people and things you hope in and hope for. It’s easy for my mind to immediately blurt, “Jesus” for both of these: hope in Jesus as a friend, Lord and brother through the Holy Spirit, and hope for Christ’s return and the wedding banquet which I hope to attend. But for me, there is some bitter savor of parrot-talk in this. The response is unthinking, coming from growing up in the church and trying my best to follow Christ for many years. It is the right answer; but much like the school boy who just gives the answer and doesn’t show his work in math class, I must slow down and work through the steps of what this hope means.
I have hope in the people. Some I have hope in because they have proven a loyalty time and time again which lets me believe I can trust them more and more. Others, because they show so much good potential, like little gleams of light peaking through the storm, promising blue skies in time. The love I have for these blue sky people is the same for all teachers and ministers, who get to see their charges grow into their more authentic selves. It seems to me that Christ also wants us to have hope in the lost cases, in the impossible chance that the long gone people might find their way back again. Having family members of my own who know the inside of a jail cell, I know how hard of a saying this can be. Still, I believe that God has that kind of wild hope for everyone, up to the last breath of life.
I hope for many things. For warm, sunny days. I hope for an end to this pandemic, and that we not forget the lessons in the fragility of life, the need for compassion, our need for touch that have come with this time apart. I hope for the moment to find me with moments like this, quiet in my place of writing, watching the earth turn like a restive child into the cool, star-pricked sheets of night. I hope for you to find this writing leads you to think of the things you hope for. I find every thing I hope for finds some fruit, even if it is not what I expect. To hope for sun on rainy days is to make more keen the joy for when the sun arrives. To hope for the presence of the Holy Spirit is to find it at your elbow.
I hope to do so many things in the future. There are so many things! To see, to taste, to feel, to sing of, to find, in short to love as love best fits them. Most of all I hope to be the sort of person that pleases God. How sweet those words must sound for those blessed to hear them, “well done my good and faithful servant.” When I think of my life, the mistakes I have made, the ways I have failed, I hope an impossible thing: to hear those words said over myself.
Hope, it has been said, is a good thing. Hope well, my friends. Hope for the coming sun. Hope like the sails in your life will ever feel the wind of God blow them into the High Country. Hope, most of all, that we each might find some small bit of this wonderful world to love, as God so lavishes with love.