here’s hoping

Aug 22, 2020

“To be without hope
is to deny the wonderful possibilities
of the future”
“One Day at a Time” daily reflections

In May I spent a few days in my home regions of North Otago and South Canterbury.  I know I’m biased but this is beautiful country, from the Pacific across plains through rolling hills to snow-capped mountains. (Echoes of the opening of Alan Paton‘s Cry the Beloved Country: “These hills are grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it”).

This region is also filled with reminders that this is an old land. Inland from Oamaru near Duntroon the Elephant Rocks have been sixty million years in the making as the sign at the gate announces, and whale bones preserved as fossils and rock drawings left by the first people of this land give this area a tangible sense of the sacred.

I snapped the above pic as I walked through that rocky landscape. The boulder in the image was no obstacle for the seed that had sprouted into a shoot of life pressing through to split the rock, becoming a sapling and maturing into a full-grown tree. That’s not a bad metaphor for the possibilities of human growth against all odds in the presence of what might seem like insurmountable obstacles.

This morning I (virtually) attended one of the talks at the annual Rimini meeting, with this year’s theme  “Devoid of Wonder, We Remain Deaf to the Sublime“.  Julian Carron spoke on the topic “Where does hope originate from?” (full video at this link).   Pope Francis’ message to the meeting reflected “wonder is truly the road to recognise the signs of the sublime, of the Mystery who is at the root and foundation of all things.”

Many things can fill us with optimism, a strong economy, good health, and enough food, drink and distraction to occupy and pre-occupy us. But such optimism is too fickle and vulnerable to sustain hope, and much of the anxiety that niggles at us even on our best days is a hint that deep within we suspect that we are barking up the wrong tree with such ego-based superficial positive-thinking.

This optimism is not the Christian virtue of hope

Instead hope is a reliable and trust-worthy confidence based on the evidence found in our experience and defined as “the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit”. CCC

This hope begins in the meeting with a divine presence-made-flesh and encountered in messy and imperfect reality of our daily experiences.

This hope begins with our acceptance of our humanity. We are not God, and we live with a vulnerability and need that is characteristic of healthy humanity; Hope in us becomes real and reliable when we make the decision to let God be God, and follow the will and lead of Jesus in every thought, word and action.


An Invitation:

  • What gets you through the tough times? Is it the power of positive thinking based on your confidence in your own ability,  OR do you depend on God who wants to lead and even carry you through every obstacle to full maturity?
  • Click this image for a simple morning and evening reflection. It might be ideal on waking in the morning before getting out of bed, or last thing at night after turning out the light.


  • Email with your initials to join those taking these few days as a simple retreat-in-daily-life, and to invite others to keep you in prayer. Click the image to enlarge.



  1. Wow. Really appreciate the readings and pics. I’m missing the regular mass and people I would usually meet. In the breathing prayer I was interrupted by a message from my daughter. I’ll send you a link. An answer to prayer. I am missing the singing and faces. The beauty of nature holds my attention these days and the dispondant feelings of grieving the fimilar pastoral losses abounded into the Tears of Joy and hooe through this mornings prayer. Thank you for the retreat in daily life. Your photo of the tree in the rock sums it up perfectly.

  2. Amazing photos to base the reflection. I feel very much carried by the Lord at present my hope at all time low. My spirit is lifted once again with FFF. Thank you

  3. Thank you Father so timely as I have just received a great little book by Sister Melannie Svoboda called Hanging on to Hope .

  4. This series is refreshingly focused and appealing and greatly needed.
    Worthy of repeating on a platform for ‘our youth, starved of truth’.

  5. In this time of family crisis, there is nothing I can do …. except hang on to the hope that God provides.
    In the words of Julian of Norwich – “All shall be well, All things shall be well, All manner of things shall be well”. My Mantra!

  6. Your introductory prose and your photograph depicting the ‘old land’, the ‘rocky landscape’, and ‘the seed that had sprouted into a shoot of life, passing through to split the rock, becoming a sapling and maturing into a full-grown tree’, left an indelible mark on me.

    In gratitude, I would like to offer a reflection about HOPEFULNESS from The Book of Job 14: 7-9 ……

    “For there is hope for a tree,
    If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
    And that its tender shoots will not cease.
    Though its roots may grow old in the earth,
    And its stump may die in the ground,
    Yet at the scent of the water, it will bud
    And bring forth branches like a plant”.

    Dear Holy Spirit of Life and Light,
    I pray that you bless us all with the gifts of faithfulness, hopefulness, and
    loving-kindness all the days of our lives.
    Amene +


  7. Hi Father John
    Your trip to the mid South recently reminds me of the wonder of seeing the snow on the mountains as you come out of the top of the Weka Pass . We always sing the song :Sing to the Mountains , Sing to the Sea , Raise your voices , Raise your hearts , this is the day the Lord has made , Let all the World Rejoice. DM.for the Retreat.


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