Saturday, July 2, 2011

Reflections on Hope

Hope is a word that I have been reflecting on quite a bit over these past few weeks. I have been pondering what it means to have hope. Is it useful to have hope? Does hope require any action from us? If we have hope, how are we different from when we don’t have hope? What is the difference between hope and denial or dreaming?

It appears that philosophers and writers have pondered this word too and I did not remember until writing this article that in Greek Mythology, when Pandora opened the box she let out all of the evils, except one, hope. There are many versions of this Greek myth, however, regardless of the versions; the bottom line is that without hope humanity fell into total despair. How, does hope help in the midst of hopelessness and what are our personal scripts around hope?

In Anthony Scioli’s book, The Power of Hope, he states that hope consists of four elements, the first being that of attachment. Then there is mastery, survival, and spirituality. I have written on and off about attachment theory and it makes perfect sense to me that people I see in my office that have the most difficult time with this nebulous word hope, are those who have attachment issues.

I will not go into attachment here, but offer some ponderings about how to hope even when your attachment style did not come from a secure base.

Pondering 1: Turn your attention to the ant. As far as we know, the ant does not fret about all of the travesties in front of it. It does not worry about your big foot that is about to take it out, nor does it focus on the fumes from the anti-bug killer. The ant continues to do what it does until it cannot do it anymore. Practice being an ant today, focus on the things in front of you that you can do something about, not those things that you have no control over.

Pondering 2: Think about the stars. According to Wikipedia, a star is a luminous mass of plasma held together by gravity. The sun is the brightest of them all. Stars shine all day but the sun out shines them, therefore we cannot see them. A star does not seem to care. Most of us do not walk out of our doors to look up at the sun. We may enjoy the sunset and the sunrise and make special efforts to gaze into the magic of the sun’s display of colors. However, at nighttime, we do go outside and look up, search and marvel at the magic of the evening. We marvel at the mystery of it all and make a wish on the first star that we see. . A star does what it does. Today focus on what you do. You breathe. Focus on breathing. Let the air around you all the way in. Fill up your lungs and slowly exhale as if you are blowing out a candle. Let your worries move further and further away as you breathe in and out. That is hope.

Pondering 3: Think about the rain. It comes and it goes. Sometimes it comes too much. Sometime it comes too hard. Sometimes it does not come hard enough. Most of us enjoy a good springtime rain when everything becomes clean and cool. Even concrete seems to let go of its dullness and sings along with the pacing of the rain. The grass glitters, the cactus smile, and if you allow yourself you can hear the rain saying, “All is well.”

To me, hope does not seem to something that we can command, but that we can experience when we stop, focus on the task at hand, and do what we can.

I hope that you have enjoyed these ponderings on hope and as you move into this Fourth of July Weekend may you ponder being present like the ant, and enjoy the gift of who you are and the gift this country is to us. Be thankful for all that you are and thankful for all you have.

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