“Hope is the act of wanting something to happen or to be true…Hope gives us strength to resist, to take action.”
– Anita Cameron, Resistance and Hope
“Where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away…And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.”
– 1 Corinthians 13:8, 13
I do not consider myself a hopeful person. Last year, I was on a panel of women discussing our callings and how they intersect with the workplace. The moderator asked why we do what we do, and my answer? “To make the world suck less.”
Forget aspiring for equity and justice, those are things I strove for in my youth. When I was a child I talked like a child, I reasoned like a child, I wanted to change the world like a child.
Now, I just want the world to suck less.
Which, is not exactly an awe-inspiring ethic.
Hope feels incredibly vulnerable most days, even when it is as ill-defined as “sucking less.” I have no reason to believe that today will be better than yesterday, nothing about this moment warrants that. Which is why hope is, in and of itself, an act of resistance.
I tend to divide feelings into binaries. Thanks to working with a therapist I no longer name these categories “good feelings” and “bad feelings,” but I still divide them. “Heavy,” and “light” are the dividers now. “Light” feelings, like happiness and excitement buoy my spirit and make the days pass quickly. I no longer think of “heavy” feelings, like sadness and anger and grief, as “bad” (though, I used to think that) but they weigh me down. These feelings must be attended to more closely, they require me to slow down and listen to them closely. The wisdom of these “heavy” feelings is rich, but hidden. It takes time to come by.
For a long time, I would have classified hope as a “good” or “light” feeling, but I don’t think that’s correct anymore. I don’t even think my much-loved habit of dividing feelings into a binary is helpful either. These days I am thinking of hope as a “thick” feeling.
In his letter to the Corinthians Paul identifies love as the greatest force that survives all wisdom and knowledge and prophecy, but hope is listed next to it. Love may be the greatest, but hope is a close second. Far from a light emotion, hope is a strong, formidable force. More complex than we have been led to believe.
Like sedimentary rock, hope is built up over time through small deposits that may seem insignificant on their own. Hope is wrought through the streams that have painfully dried up, but left something in their wake that is firm and rich and bursting with potential. Hope is knowing things die, and also that sometimes water flows from the stony grave if you drill down deep enough.
Today, dig deep into the hardened places in your heart and mind. Those places where it has been less painful to shut down than to stay open. What waters may be waiting to well up in the rocks of hope within you?