Hope For Troubled Times

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At a recent physical therapy appointment with a new (to me) physical therapist, I was surprised by suddenly bursting into tears at what she had observed about my physical body and what she might do to help resolve some long-term issues I have. Bursting into tears with someone I hardly know is highly unusual behavior for me, so when the physical therapist inquired about what was going on for me at that moment and I answered her,”I’m crying because I’m afraid to hope,” I was even more surprised. The next day the following quote popped up in an email:

People don’t cry when they lose their hope. They cry when they get it back.

                          — Martha Beck

It made me realize that the things that hurt us the most often cause us to shut down hope because we’re afraid of being disappointed. We’d rather numb out than feel the pain. One must become a warrior to stay open and vulnerable to life and to maintain hope.

After this week’s horrendous mass shooting in Las Vegas and the devastating hurricanes in Houston, Florida, and Puerto Rico, I imagine we’re all in need of a little bit of hope.

It is tempting to want to tune out the news and the horror and the frustration that these shootings keep happening in our country and we do nothing to prohibit assault weapons or to help improve mental health services in our communities.

The evidence of accelerating climate change is also scary.

Our president’s childish and obsessive tweets about anyone who disagrees with him set a negative tone and the decimation of agencies like the EPA which has done so much to protect our environment saddens me. The cynical lies so many of our elected representatives tell make me angry.

Despite all the scary, crazy, saddening, and maddening news I know that it’s important to stand in “the place of truth-telling” about how I feel and then to do something positive and when necessary resist. It is important to see the world as it is while holding a vision of what it could be.

Hope for Troubled Times

There are reasons to hope.

I feel hope when I consider all of the good Samaritans who helped others during the hurricanes and the Las Vegas attack and afterwards.

Hope and joy surprised me yesterday when I observed a little girl at the food coop sneaking a little piece of kale to eat from her mom’s shopping cart.

My two adult daughters and their loved ones always bring me hope.

The actions of many cities and states and individuals that have directly opposed discriminative directives from the president make me feel hopeful.

Looking for Hope

I went looking for quotes about hope for myself and to share with you today and here they are…

 

…hope is a function of struggle…hope is not an emotion. Hope is a cognitive, behavioral process that we learn when we experience adversity, when we have relationships that are trustworthy, when people have faith in our ability to get out of a jam…Hope is brokenhearted on the way to becoming wholehearted. Hope is a function of struggle.

          — Brené Brown from Courage is Born from Struggle, On Being interview with Krista Tippett

 

“Hope”
by Victoria Safford

Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of hope — not the prudent gates of Optimism, which are somewhat narrower; nor the stalwart, boring gates of Common Sense; nor the strident gates of self-righteousness, which creak on shrill and angry hinges; nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of “Everything is gonna be all right,” but a very different, sometimes very lonely place, the place of truth-telling, about your own soul first of all and its condition, the place of resistance and defiance, the piece of ground from which you see the world both as it is and as it could be, as it might be, as it will be; the place from which you glimpse not only struggle, but joy in the struggle — and we stand there, beckoning and calling, telling people what we are seeing, asking people what they see.

 
Listen.
Are you breathing just a little
and calling it a life?
— Mary Oliver
 
“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
Shel Silverstein
 
“TO BE HOPEFUL in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
Howard Zinn
 

WHEN I AM AMONG TREES by Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.

I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”

The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,”
they say, “and you, too, have come
into the world to do this, to go easy,
to be filled with light, and to shine.”

 

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