Hope Blog Relay: Ordinary Hope
August 1, 2012 1 Comment
Reflecting on the charge has brought many things to mind. I could talk about the first book of my advisor and mentor which delicately constructs a responsible Christian theology of hope.
Or I could write about the persistent hope of pastor and social activist Desmond Tutu, a constant thorn in my side during my more “realistic” and “pessimistic” moments, who has consistently reminded the world that hope is a virtue with roots that go much deeper than optimism.
Or I could talk about the pained faces of the Russian women’s gymnastics team I watched last night as the chance at Olympic gold fell through their fingers and the hope of the last four years vanished.
Or I could talk about the way hope (and love) kept my wife’s dear Abuelita alive, through years of cancer, long enough to see her youngest grandchild married.
Or … well, this list could go on forever.
I write about hope this morning as my mother-in-law heads into surgery. I write about hope this morning as my wife and I are in the middle of a cross-country move, during which she has started a new job and I have started writing a dissertation, by moving into a house for the first time in our five years of marriage. I write about hope this morning as my nephews and nieces have begun looking toward a new school year (for some their first!) with all of its promise and possibilities. I write about hope as each and every person on earth has entered today with hopes worth having, and therefore feeling alive, or having lost hope (and therefore maybe even life).
I have a feeling that we often think of hope as that thing which comes to us in our moments of greatest distress or despair. Or we think of it as some disposition reserved to the greatest exemplars of our highest aspirations as humans. Or we think of it as something that is idealistic and naive in a profit-driven and “dog-eat-dog” world.
But hope is the stuff of everyday life. It is, at its best, rather … ordinary. It is that which greets us with every sunrise and calms us as we lay our heads down at night. It is learned as our hopes are met everyday in little and mundane ways – like when the recipe turns out just right, the hug offered is greeted with open arms, and we make it through a day safe and having smiled. And this training deepens the well of hope so that we may be able to draw upon its life-giving water when our hopes are delayed or dashed.
One cannot love without hope. One cannot raise a child without hope. One cannot pray without hope. And one cannot write a dissertation without hope!
Hope isn’t grand or extraordinary. Rather, it is radically ordinary. It is the stuff that a life worth living is made of. And this is why, whether “this worldly” or “otherworldly,” it is such a central theme in so many of the religions in our world.
As Christians like to say, “It may be Friday, but Sunday’s a-coming!”
May you have hope today and every day.
I now pass the baton to some of my favorite bloggers:
Brad East, for a thoroughly theological perspective.
And Rahiel Tesfamariam, Candice Marie Benbow, and Mark Jefferson over at Urban Cusp.