The Light of Hope (March 2023)
When I first saw that the theme for this month was hope, I was reminded of an article I published in my magazine, back in February 2013. Looking back to that article this morning, I realized that hope was actually a secondary focus, and the main theme was exploring the difference between faith, belief, confidence, and trust. With input from Marty Molengraaf1, Barbara Susan Booth2, and John Lawson3, that article explored the four concepts—faith, belief, confidence, trust—their similarities and their differences. But we also looked at how hope factors in. I am intrigued as I realize that my concept of hope has not changed at all, in the ten years that have passed since that article was published.
For me, hope is present during times of darkness, unlike faith, belief, confidence, and trust. Those states of mind, if we have them, are present no matter what may be going on in our life at the time. But when things are going well, we don’t usually think of the need for hope. It is only when we are struggling that hope becomes a necessity, to guide us through those dark times.
And the smallest, simplest thing could be the catalyst for that hope. A glimmer of sunshine through grey, cloudy skies, or a smile from a stranger we pass on the street, when we’re having a hard day.
Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.
– Desmond Tutu
I remember reading once about a young woman who had decided that life was no longer worth living, and had decided to end her life that very day … until a stranger she passed on the street made a point of telling her how beautiful her dress was. It was this small, seemingly insignificant compliment that caused her to think that maybe, just maybe, life was worth living after all. And she changed her plans.
February 17 was Random Acts of Kindness Day. And while I personally believe this should happen every day, I am glad there is a day specified, that brings attention to such a powerful way of being in the world.
About a year ago, when I was having one of those “whatever can go wrong will go wrong” kind of days. In despair and frustration, I pulled into a drive-through, to grab a coffee and something to eat. I became even more irritated when the person in the car in front of me took what I thought to be an excessive amount of time deciding on what to order. Fortunately, I kept my irritation in check.
When I reached the cashier’s window, I was told that my order had been paid for. I will never forget the mixture of humility, gratitude, and yes, a bit of embarrassment, I felt. But the hope that resulted from that situation caused me to change the way I approached the rest of my day.
Wayne Dyer said that what we focus on expands. And I agree. If we focus on positive things, like gratitude and generosity, we attract more positive things to us. And we can’t help but pass those things on to others, as we live our lives differently.
Back to the 2013 article …
My question was “What is your definition of hope, and where does it fit into the picture?” Here’s what Barbara, John and Marty had to say:
Barbara: Hope is a wanting or longing for something that has not yet happened and a desire that it turn out in a certain way in the future.
John: Hope is something that calls me forward – a future promise to live into. I need to practice living into that hope – even when sometimes, I don’t feel it.
Marty: Hope is the understanding that the way things are right now, will not be the way they are forever.
Nelson Mandela and Anne Frank are, for me, two of the best purveyors of the light of hope in the midst of darkness. I will end with words from each of them, that I try to live up to, day by day:
In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.
– Anne Frank
May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.
– Nelson Mandela
1 Former minister at Duff's Presbyterian Church in Puslinch
2 Founder of the (now closed) Sacred Wisdom Centre
3 Retired United Church minister