Hope is in every day and in every interaction. I feel it when I see possibility, I see it when I feel empathy, I hear it when I embrace others and I touch it when I listen to the voices I otherwise would pass by. Hope is pregnant with possibility. That’s why I am determined to engage, I don’t want to miss the hope. I fear passivity the most, that feeling that creeps in that nothing is possible, that there is no way to make a difference, that I am resigned to the experience of helplessness. In those moments I reach for hope, I look for it desperately and thank God, I have always been able to find it.
In my most difficult period of self-doubt, when I felt like I was in a pit and could not climb out, a period that lasted approximately six months, I was fortunate to have a one and half year old child living in my house that needed attention. My spouse would thrust her into my arms and say, “you take her out for a walk tonight, it will be good for both of you.” And it was, it saved me, it gave me the hope I needed. Just walking and talking with her was filled with the hope of lay before her and us.
I also found art. We lived a half walk from a large art gallery filled with an amazing collection of the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson. I would walk over this small quaint metal bridge to the gallery every lunch time, spend some time walking among the works of artists who captured the Canadians landscape and I felt hope. It reminded me of beauty and wonder and awe. The experience also took me out of myself, tugged me into the mystery of the Holy, the space where we are not planning, doing and accomplishing but rather being and resting and filled with some sense of mysterious belonging.
I also began to notice others around me, their brokenness, their pain and I felt differently about that than I did before. Instead of fixing and getting cranky if the other was not doing enough to help themselves I now was more understanding, realistic, patient, I did not expect myself to cure the other but I also wanted to engage the other more, be with her or him in the struggle. It was hope-filled to know I was not to blame for their misery but it was equally hope-filled to know I could be with them and something could or would happen that healed us both.
I am not one of those people who gives thanks for my brokenness. I feel that is a slippery slope for a kind of faith that tells others that their pain, much-much-much worse than mine, was part of a “plan”. I cannot and will not go there. But I do give thanks for the human condition that allows our brokenness to be healed by “being human” as Jean Vanier would say. Hope is not a cure-all, it is not a pious serious of words and assurance that “it’s all going to work out fine” and it certainly is not that sense that once through this struggle everything will end like a Walt Disney movie, all the hard and jagged pieces smoothed out. No, that is not my hope. My hope is in the confidence that brokenness can lead to healing and that beauty, compassion, redemption, joy and laughter can help us find the way to a new beginning.
Hope does not fix but it does fill. Hope does not come apart from us it comes with our hands and feet and an openness to something other that makes all the difference. Hope is real and it is possible. Hope comes through the cracks. As Leonard Cohen says the cracks allow the light to shine through.