“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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.