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Hope (and not Obama's kind....)


Some days, it doesn’t seem like there is any hope: that “one more” bill comes in the mail, the principal from your kid’s school calls (again), an old argument bubbles up for the umpteenth time. Hope seems to be something for some other type of person, in some other type of life, but not yours.

In the Christian faith, hope is a heroic virtue, but it isn’t just for Christians. It calls us to make hope a habit, and that we actively cultivate it in our lives and help others do the same. Hope isn’t a wish as we blow out the birthday candles; it is a reliance on a strength that is beyond our mere human resources. If we can garner that type of hope, we will be able to sustain ourselves in even the most trying of circumstances. In order to do this, though, we have to have some assurance that this type of hope exists – we want to see it, feel it, and experience its presence.

I know all about trying circumstances, and I know all about hope: trying to sustain it, losing it, getting it back, and knowing that on any given day, I am neither heroic nor virtuous. My husband and I have five children, all adopted. Although we’ve known many joys as parents, the parenthood we’ve experienced has challenged us in every part of our beings: physically, emotionally and spiritually. We’ve sat in courtrooms, logged countless hours with psychologists and psychiatrists, called 911 to our own home, had social workers on speed dial - and cried. A lot. So what have I learned about renewing hope?

One lesson I’ve learned about hope is that you can’t buy it. There is no magic medication, no one therapy, no wonderful program or miraculous counselor that is going to “fix” whatever it is that needs fixing. The next lesson I’ve learned about hope is that it isn’t one thing. It’s a lot of things, and really, it’s not “things” at all. Finally, hope is available to all of us. It isn’t about being rich, about being educated, about being a certain status in society.

Hope is a heroic virtue, even for those of us who don’t consider ourselves very heroic or virtuous. Hope isn’t a magic pill or program; it isn’t a “thing”. It is YOU: you supporting others when you have hope to share. It is you, being a support to someone, so that another person knows that no matter how bad things might get, you will be there to help, listen, support and care. It is you, being part of a community of people who look out for each other, who wish to share hope and cultivate it for all those seeking it. Let us share one message: Hope is ours – ours to create, share, and renew with all those who need it.

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Crossing Guard

I saw you
today
as you guided
your little man across that busy street.

You were wearing some
big man boots
and
watching cars and lights.

Your little man had on
black sneakers and
a Mickey Mouse hat
that bounced
as he walked.

He wasn't watching nothing but
your big man boots
and
the white stripes of the crosswalk.

Just before
he got to the sidewalk again,
his step bounced a bit
- he hopped over
a spot where the asphalt broke.

You turned to look,
holding out a hand to
your little man.
Not rushed or angry,
just making sure
he got up
on that sidewalk.

Then you walked on,
in your big man boots,
face into a cold Michigan wind,
with the little man behind,
his hat bouncing.