The actions hope calls for may be hard, unsettling, upsetting and more before we are able to experience the results, which in turn become beautiful stories and images of inspiration.
Hope is a naturally occurring phenomenon of life and is at the root of anything desired or expected. Filled with a persistence that can range from being a gentle continual nudge to a captivating force, hope is the powerful emotion behind our desired future. We find helpful symbols of hope all around us, being depicted as a shrub growing out of the ash, the birth of an animal from an endangered species, the spread of a bird’s wings as it flies through the air above the dangers below. The likes of such beautiful images and more inspire in us the will to keep moving in the direction of our hope despite the challenges we face. For all the beauty and inspiration held in its sentiments, there is another side of hope, and it is not often seen as beautiful and inspirational.
Over 30 years ago, two trees were planted by a sidewalk, part of a group planted in the neighborhood to add beauty and character and to provide many other environmental benefits. As saplings, the two trees were small and cute and had many challenges ahead in order to grow and develop. Those challenges included withstanding the wind, weathering storms and most important, growing their root systems deep and wide enough within the earth to support their growth into maturity. Some 30 years later, they have achieved this hope and over time, the sidewalk in front of my home has been unsettled as a result of the trees’ roots growing deep and wide.
The other side of hope is that hope itself can be a disruptive force, and many times must be because the challenges before it will not simply dissolve in order for hope to have its desire. The other side of hope is experienced when an action or adjustment is necessary for the health and well-being of another, yet it unsettles the way we have done things and how we have lived. The other side of hope is that it can be annoying and even frustrating when we have our own agenda and plans, yet another’s hope is persistent in seeking our attention, our help and our care. The other side of hope is that even when it is our own, it disturbs our peace by pushing us out of our comfort zones, as it knows in order for a new reality to exist we must do what is initially unfamiliar.
Additionally, the other side of hope is that it may require discomfort or pain to be endured for a time. The writer of Lamentations said it this way: “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for [the Lord’s] compassions never fail.” (Lamentations 3:19-22, NIV)
As we tend to the hope of others and our own, may we remember the actions hope calls for may be hard, unsettling, upsetting and more before we are able to experience the results, which in turn become beautiful stories and images of inspiration.
The Rev. Brian K. Wilson Sr., M.Div., BCC, is a chaplain at Norton Hospital.