Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier’…Alfred Tennyson
I’m straining to hear that whisper. It’s faint, but I think I hear it.
Hope is never a luxury. It is essential. I shudder when I think that relief may be deferred much further into the new year. That life will not snap back to normal for some time. So, I strain to hear the whisper and look for the smile. I search for hope.
Here’s where I find it.
I find hope in the divine, in God. Though I pray for a miracle, for God to wow us with a sudden sweeping wave of restoration, I do not anticipate it. I have written before of my settled belief, after four decades of pastoral work, that God seems reluctant to do the spectacular.
But what I believe God DOES is pretty astonishing, none the less. God shows up, engages and “in all things works for our good” even in our darkest hours. That is providence. We are not forgotten. We are not alone. We will, in time, “run and not grow weary, we will walk and not faint.”
Providence gives me hope.
So do people. Er…some people give me hope.
This year my hope in humanity has taken a hit. And before I list the people who have exasperated me, let me be quick to point the finger at myself first. I have been disappointed by my aggrievement, my lack of grace and occasional vindictiveness through my frustration. I am truly sorry for that.
But I have been sorely disillusioned by others. Anti-maskers, QANON adherents, Christian nationalists, weak and narcissistic leaders, political ideologues and sycophants and systemic racism deniers. (Side note…BLACK LIVES DO MATTER)
These people I’ve listed have chipped away at my hope.
But so, so many have renewed my confidence. The courage and determination of frontline medical workers astounds me. The faithful showing-up of countless service industry workers humbles me as they strive to make sure my every wish is granted. The scientists who sleep at their desks and eat cold pizza, straining to develop a vaccine with miraculous speed. The teachers who turn on a dime, again and again, to lovingly teach our kids in any way they can. The working moms and dads who deftly, albeit exhaustedly, change diapers, manage online school schedules for their kids, make dinner AND Zoom all day long for work. The leaders who make the tough calls to mandate policies and limitations as many of their constituents selfishly whine, threaten and bail. And the thousands upon thousands of everyday folk who do little and big things out of self-giving love to care and provide and listen and serve.
All of these folks enhance that whisper of hope.
I hope I can have a night out with my wife again. I hope I can sing songs in my church again. I hope I can linger in a store again. I hope I can go to the symphony again. I hope I can go on vacation again. I hope we can get coffee again. I hope I can hug you again.
I am holding out hope. Because of God and because of many of you.