--Alexander Pope, 1733
I got a little shot of hope yesterday, on a grey and rainy and "chilled to the bone" kind of late February afternoon, when I turned on my car radio, for then, at exactly 2:48 p.m., I heard the distant calls of a baseball game from Florida, the Boston Red versus the Baltimore Orioles. Coming to me all the way from the warm climes of the Sunshine State, where it was 86 degrees and sunny, that little shot of spring gave me hope. Reminded me that hope springs eternal. Spring is coming!
Hope: the spiritual quality of looking for the good in the midst of the bad, of imagining and praying and working for the positive that lies just ahead, even if the current times are a challenge, hard, bleak even. Like millions of Americans I'm still processing the recent deaths in Parkland, Florida, that loss of life, so sad, so terrible. Still wading through the cultural response to it as well: politicians who pretend to "listen" but still do nothing. Adults who seem to care more about their guns than our children, who are unable to lay aside conviction for compromise and the common good. Yet still I have hope as I watch the brave and articulate young people who survived, who have spoken out and stood up, spoken truth to power with such grace and such fire. Who demand change, NOW. Amazing. Such courage.
Hope: a saint in my tradition defines it as having faith in things not seen. Meaning hope is not really hope unless we dare to believe in the better and the best yet to come, yet to be. In humanity. In the world. In ourselves. It may be cold today but by the witness of tiny buds on the trees and little green shoots pushing up through the earth, we know spring is going to come. ABSOLUTELY! So where is spring coming into your one life, your world? Where is your hope? In children or youth who inspire you by their energy? In folks around you who live lives of love and care but never make the news? In faith that sustains you, gives you strength to carry on, especially on the chilly days and nights of winter? Hope always takes commitment. To look for it. Anticipate it. Trust it. Embody it.
Hope looks beyond the incessant downbeat chatter of the media and the news. If the world were actually as bad as journalists and politicians tell us to believe, need us to believe, we'd all be in deep doo-doo. Yes, life in 2018 is a challenge but so too it is full of so much hope. Did you know that according to the United Nations, the world's poverty rate has been cut in half --HALF--in just the last twenty years? That according to F.B.I. statistics, the violent crime rate in the United States fell by 48 percent from 1996 to 2016? That the unemployment rate in the U.S. is at its lowest point in 17 years; and the current economic recovery and expansion will soon become the second longest in the United States since 1854? But fear mongering politicians don't get votes and cynical media outlets don't get readers and viewers by heralding such hopeful news.
Yes, it's February and it will probably snow and be messy at least one more time. Yes, spring is still many days away. Yes, we can all too easily look out at the world and find something to complain about, to be hopeless about. But so too, we can look at the world and find plenty to be hopeful about too; to thank our God for; to see as a gift and a blessing. We can listen for the song birds that are already singing. Maybe they know something that we don't: that hope always spring eternal.
Got hope? Get hope.