It is Easter week. Easter is the symbol of Hope. Today, in the midst of hell on Earth, literally, I found myself hopeless and angry. A meditation on Hope appeared in my in-box. I had nothing to lose but a bad attitude, but I started listening with a chip on my shoulder. Hope, to me, seemed a passive word. “Oh gosh, I hope it gets better!” As I closed my eyes and truly listened, I heard that Hope is a deeper word with a deeper meaning. It’s opening your energy to a belief that there is always an outcome, a reason, an underlying purpose to everything and at the center of that is hope. We are a hopeful people. I thought of a poem I used to know by heart, in the deepest parts of my soul, and vowed to return to that place. Here is the first stanza of “Hope is the thing with feathers” by Emily Dickinson:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all.
So, hope is always there, but deep, in a place we have to access from our quieter higher self. The place we go in prayer or desperation or fear or great loss. For those of us who force ourselves to look at the happenings in the world, it is difficult to find hope. We sometimes cover our tender hearts with anger or judgment as we feel hopeless (or helpless.) It’s overwhelming! It’s too big! The energy of fear and anger is tamping down the smoother, brighter energy of Hope.
What on earth can I possibly do except cry with the grieving Syrian father as he carries his two dead babies and lays them side-by-side in freshly turned soil? I give my meager charitable donations to organizations that feed the hungry, build shelters for the displaced, or send medical help to places we will not willingly go. It is a drop of water on a stone the size of Mount Rushmore. And what, if anything, do those long ago Fathers of this country feel from the other side? Would they have even imagined the scope of hate, ignorance, greed and violence abroad in the land? I can’t imagine they would.
But how do we find Hope? If we live in a loud and harshly divided world—and we do—how can hope be heard? If we live in politically and emotionally divided relationships, families, communities, governmental bodies, news media—and we do—who can detect the bird of hope? The voices of anger and divisiveness are available 24/7 on television and radio, and it is so rare to hear anyone stop and say: “Look, folks. We are yelling into a vacuum. You are not hearing me, I am not hearing you. We are marshaling our arguments as the other speaks.” If a panel on CNN can’t do that, how in the world can Russia, Syria and the United States do that? Where are the people of hope?
Barack Obama spoke of Hope. It was seen as weakness. Even after the election we are told his efforts toward peace put us on the weak side of negotiations. We were told in the recent elections and appointments that we must be strong. In the masculine sense of strength, it means pick up your stick and start flailing at the other guy. Threaten those who might bite into your piece of the pie.
“Politics hates a vacuum. If it isn’t filled with hope, someone will fill it with fear.” Naomi Klein
But there are other types of strength. There’s the strength in the women who carry the water and stand in front of young girls as the predatory armies seek to possess them. It’s the strength of protestors in Moscow who cry out for freedom, knowing they can be disappeared the next moment. It’s the strength in volunteers from all over the world who try to vaccinate, rescue, feed, clothe and support the ignored. It’s the strength seen in those who sit in a refugee camp in Africa or the Middle East and swear they will someday get to a place of freedom and be able to live a self-directed life. The shock of hearing they are not wanted must be an enormous blow to hope.
But the truth is, all of this strength comes from Hope—the Hope that we are better than we appear, that we can bring forth the “angels of our better nature”, that good will overcome evil.
Watching the national news showing our royal family spending the tax dollars congress has stripped from healthcare and other essentials, I would say all hope is gone. Watching the Congress make sure the rich profit and women and children go to the bottom of the heap makes me feel hope is gone. Then I see good people speak up, saying this is unacceptable. And something stirs. We have risen up as a people to protect and support those who suffer on more than one occasion. We will do it again. We must do it again. The ‘thing with feathers’ that sits in my soul says there is always Hope.