Keep Hope Alive

I have a small candle-holder sitting on my desk with a little votive candle sitting in it. A friend gave it to me – and the gentle admonition written on the side of glass serves to keep me aware of one of the most important things I am called to do: Keep Hope Alive.

As I read it, I call to mind the words of my favorite poet, Emily Dickinson. She writes that “hope is the thing with feathers – that perches in the soul.”

You know, if you are thing with feathers perching anywhere, there is a real sense that you could fly away at any moment. You are there, but for how long? The slightest breeze could send you flittering away.

As she often did, in an economy of words that only the true genius really knows how to fully utilize, Emily strikes a chord of deep, abiding truth. Hope is a fleeting matter.

The reminder to Keep Hope Alive is one that demands constancy, vigilance, and renewed commitment. What appears as hope today can easily erode tomorrow and need to be replaced by something new that has heretofore either not existed, gone unnoticed, or been under-utilized.

The Earth is on the precipice of becoming uninhabitable as global temperatures rise out of control.

Two terrorist attacks last week took dozens of lives each, one in Istanbul and one in Baghdad.

America is about to hand over the oval office to an unapologetic misanthrope whose public rhetoric belittles women, Mexicans, Muslims and the poor. He threatens to engage democracy as a weapon against the most vulnerable rather than as their hope of last resort.

What does it mean to keep hope alive under these circumstances?

If we can’t answer that question, there is little left for faith to offer.

Which is not my way of saying we have no hope; it is rather my way of saying that time with the sacred must include the lament speaks from our despair; and then postures us to hear the voice that speaks a hope that comes when our own imaginations fail us.

We have been in these places before. Each time there is a tendency to think it has never been this bad; or that God and faith have become irrelevant in light of this new threat.

We cannot succumb to that. We must keep hope alive. And to do that, we must commit to time with our sacred. That commitment must find us available and open to the Holy One who sees beyond the threat, beyond the despair, beyond the complexity and the uncertainty and the, well – hopelessness. She will not be silent in this time – nor can we remain inactive.

We are agents of transformation and hope. We broker in what remains possible long after our collective genius fails us. With each step in this sacred wilderness, we muster the hope and courage to believe there is a way forward, a way through, a way out. And in companionship with our Creator and Sustainer, we commit to take the next uncertain step in the direction of a tomorrow that is not barren of hope and possibility.

She may perch with feathers, but she abides. She stands ready to soar, and in the flight remind us that we march forward on this journey, overcoming obstacles and defeating forces that conspire to undo us.

Walk together on this pathway. Keep hope alive. See beyond the despair and know that surprises await us all as we wind our way across the days on our journey Into the Mystic.