(By Dr John Steward)
I will mention 5 clues in the quest to find hope. Life in HOPE is a forward-looking emotion.
It starts with a feeling of desire, a wish for something –which sounds a bit bland… but
Hope can become a confidence in the possibility of its fulfilment.
Shakespeare wrote about the tender leaves of hope. (1616)
And Wendell Berry describes hope as a process we wish for but cannot control. His short poem: The seed is in the ground. Now may we rest in hope – while darkness does its work.
Hope takes time to emerge. I will illustrate this for you:
I commenced my work in Rwanda with the bland version of hope: I hope I will see something good happen.
But as I came to observe the hope-less-ness of the people I was not even sure what hope would look like. I struggled on…not knowing…
Then a Rwandan came to me and told me one hopeful story. A few weeks later my partner heard another one. So, first clue, others nourished my desire for hope by sharing their story. Hope is OUT THERE, if I just listen.
Second clue: hope is likely to be found on the humble margins. There’s more generosity the further we move to the Edge, away from the wizz-bang, popular centre of power.
After 8 months in Rwanda I had to go to Canada to bring an update of our work. I put a bland title on it: Rwanda Case study. I met the convenor of the session and gave him a copy to look at overnight. The next day the Convenor introduced me with these words: We all know the terrible times in Rwanda and as John presents his report, I have one suggestion: He needs to change the title from Case study to HOPE Amidst THE HORROR.
I sat there in a moment of shock, hardly believing that he had named what I could not. HOPE Amidst THE HORROR. He could see that my small team were on a path to fulfil the dream of healing. I left that room changed – that’s the value of hope; it nourishes courage.
Third clue: who is the person or group I can talk to about my struggles and un-fulfilled hopes; who may invite me to see what I cannot yet perceive in myself and my situation?
While there is life, there is hope (Terentius, d. 159 BCE). Look at nature: it is constantly creative, never static. Visit gardens, buy some flowers, keep bees, lizards, a budgie or a Cat (indoors only, please).
Fourth clue: look out for life and receive the gift they bring because they exist and have a role: Feed on Hope, like a butterfly drinks nectar.
Fifth clue: If we need words of hope, turn to the Holy books of faith. And make sure to let Cath’s book speak. I read it again last week and marked to word Hope. It’s there 60 times. Here are clues from the lives of others and how tough times have brought Hope to life. A final word from writer Judith Rich: Hope is a match in a dark tunnel, a moment of light.
John Steward, 8 July 2021