“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, that dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” Anne Lamott
Hope is in short supply these days. The bombardment of scary images from the Paris attacks, the terror of constant threat and vigilance, and the horrific disregard for human life have, once again, walked us to the edge of the cliff of cultural despair.
A neighborhood in Beirut, a café and concert venue in Paris, a hotel in Mali, a fruit and vegetable market in a village in Nigeria. The terror of war leapt off our TV screens and landed squarely in our homes, our neighborhoods, our everyday lives. The distant drone attacks of our video game wars became palpable soul attacks on our everyday, walk around lives.
Neighborhoods. Cafes. Concert venues. Hotels. Markets. We live there. We work there. We play there. We laugh there. We celebrate there. Now, again, we are anxious there. We fear being there. We fear the others who are there with us.
Hope, if hope is what I/we feel in these moments, is in short supply these days.
But, hope is not simply a feeling. Hope is an act of the will, a courageous stance in the face of despairing life, a choice to make, to live, to share.
Arthur Brooks, in yesterday’s New York Times, spoke about gratitude in this way: “But we are more than slaves to our feelings, circumstances and genes. Evidence suggests that we can actively choose to practice gratitude — and that doing so raises our happiness.”
What is true of practicing gratitude is true of practicing hope. We are not slaves to our feelings, circumstances, and genes. Notice the active verbs in Anne Lamott’s quote above—show up, do the right thing, wait, watch, work don’t give up!
In the face of the present realities of our world we can retreat to the passive cocoon of darkness and despair—walling ourselves off from the fearful world and demonizing others; the foreigners, the refugees, or we can resurrect the stubborn hope that was born in Jesus’ people from the moment of the empty tomb. And then we show up, do the right thing, wait, watch, work and never give up.
It’s Monday. How will hope be an active verb in your life this season? Peace. Kai
P.S. For people of Peace Lutheran, HOPE is our theme this Advent/Christmas season. I look forward to seeing you in worship and being people of Hope together.