Hope is a fragile thing

And needs us to nourish it.

Pope Saint Francis said: “Perfect families do not exist.  Love is something we learn; love is something we live.  We know that mistakes, problems, and conflicts are an opportunity to draw close to other, to draw closer to God.”  

We look around us and we see that…everything is awful.  We see that people are…awful.  

It feels like everywhere we look there is hate and division.  There is friction, everywhere.  It feels like everyone is out to get one another, out to get us.  It’s loud and aggressive and ugly.  It’s insane and wrong.  It’s…awful.  

Who’s feeling unsettled? Anxious? Afraid?  Worried?  Depressed?  Angry?  Overwhelmed?  

Who’s feeling…Hopeless?  

A fundamental core value of faith is…Hope.  Hope in what?  This is an important (and personal) question.  What do we have hope in?  What do we need to have hope in?  Hope in an afterlife?  Hope in God?  Hope in Kindness?  Hope in Goodness?  Hope in humanity?  Hope in one another?  Hope in the here and now?  

It’s ok for us to disagree, hope is in many ways personal.  It is also Universal.  We must have hope in the here and now.  We must.  If we over focus on a Hope for what comes after, we lose sight of the gifts and joys before us.  We lost sight of now.  If hope isn’t for here and now, we don’t see the: Gift of the Earth/Garden and the Gift of one another.  (Pause to Reflect)

There is a “new” concern arriving that we are so focused on what’s wrong and bad, and what we did wrong and are doing wrong (guilt and shame, guilt and shame), and that we’re come too far to fix anything…

So…

We’ve become hopeless.  Where there is no hope, we give up.  There’s no point.  Everything is awful, people are awful, life is awful, and there’s nothing we can do about it, so why bother? Universal hopelessness.  And we, with all good intentions, feed it.  And keep feeding it.  (Pause to Reflect)

We need to find an appropriate balance of being informed, but not over informed (or wrongly informed).  Seeing reality, but not falling into hopelessness.  We need to not get stuck in “things were so much better then” or “things will be better when”.  We need to be present in hope and beauty now. In some ways, giving up is easy, not healthy, but easy.  If there is no hope, we don’t have to do work, we can just…wait.  But there is always hope and there is always work to be done.  

We need hope in order to survive and thrive and be joyful.  Joy is also fundamental and joy is not happy.  It is something more.  We need hope to function.  Otherwise, we fall too deeply into fear, anxiety, anger, depression, overwhelm, busy and we’re so far from hope that we’re not of use.  We become pointless.  We lose sight of love of the earth/garden and love of one another.  What’s the point?  Hope.  As President Snow says in the Hunger Games: Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.  

Without love and hope, we become distant when we need to move closer.  Closer.  Connect.  Break bread together and commune with one another.  Talk with one another. Listen with one another.  Be with one another.  

Connect to hope and maybe take a break from the things that feed our hopelessness.  There’s a a few things that can feed hopelessness, if we’re not careful.  

News: it’s sensational and loud and scary.  It’s out there and distant.  Those people are out there and distant.  I would also include violent shows…

Social Media: also loud and scary.  It’s out there and distances us.  

These both make us feel connected, and “informed”, but if not used wisely, distance us from one another.  These relationships begin to replace real relationships, closeness, and connection.  

They are also distracting from hope and work.  They can keep us hopeless and fearful.  We see so many things we can’t do anything about.  The world seems awful and people seem awful.  

What happens when we turn off our news and our social media?  If only for an hour, a day, or a week?  (PAUSE to Reflect).  Disconnecting for a time can help us to reconnect to tech/TV/media in a more wise way, as opposed to in our habitual ways…

In the meantime, if we disconnect from news and social media…

–We notice the trees and tend our land.

–We notice the neighbor and lend a hand.  

–We notice a friend who needs to talk.  

–We notice the flower that bloomed after the frost.  

–We notice the birds and hear a new language. 

–We notice the beauty and what’s good. 

–We notice the blessings and the gifts.  

–We notice that life isn’t awful.

–We notice that people aren’t awful.

And yes, we notice the struggles and the challenges.  Not those across the world or across the country, where we feel the hopelessness of being unable to do anything.  But in our here and the now.  In the place where we can do some good.  When we turn off the social media and the news, we have more time to…connect.  To make a phone call.  To send a card.  To share a cup of coffee.  Time to clean out the ditch in our own neighborhood.  Time for the real work of daily life and…cultivating Hope.  

Real people give us hope.  Real connections feed love.  Wise use of our resources, our technology, can help us connect and be of service.  

We begin to notice, that yes there are ugly and awful things, but everything is Good.  And people are Good.  Faith and hope is about seeking and doing the Good things.  Begin this week by focusing on Hope.  Find hope and joy in every day.  Find the small things you can do to make a difference and bring hope.

Today, we walk for hunger (it’s CROP Walk Day).  Hope.  

This week, look for Hopeful things.  Share hopeful things…

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