My friend, Priscilla Galasso, writes about hope and will in the BeZine. About hope, she writes specifically,
"Hope is a deceitful kind of thing. It sounds like a marvelous, Puritanical virtue. I think it’s a slippery slope. Hope is passive. “I hope it won’t rain.” There’s nothing you can really do about it, one way or the other. You’re stating a wish, a sort of desire or thought without any teeth. “I hope my insurance will cover this.” You’re placing the burden of responsibility or action on something, someone other than yourself. “I hope in the future.” You’re making present moment decisions while not being present in the moment."
Is that how hope works?
When I look at the word hope, the definition includes "A desire of some good, accompanied with an expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable; an expectation of something which is thought to be desirable; confidence; pleasing expectancy."
Hope isn't some pie-in-the-sky desire that is unobtainable. It is grounded in achievability. Certainly, we throw phrases around like, "I hope it will not rain during my camping vacation." But we really mean, "I do not want it to rain." After all, I hoped it would not rain, but I still packed my rain gear when I went camping last week (it rained the first day!).
Maybe, hope, like love, is a sorely overused word whose meaning is being diluted. Hope, like love, is both a noun and a verb. What does it mean to live into the action of hoping? Maybe it means:
I hope for cats who will get along...therefore I bribe them regularly with tasty treats.
I hope for a change in mass incarceration...therefore I teach and preach about racism and privilege.
I hope for world peace...therefore I work on being peaceful.
I am sure I will hear from Priscilla about my quibbles with the meaning and action of hope...I hope she will not be offended! 😉
For me, the work that I do mentoring incarcerated youth is tied up a lot in hope. Or dreams. Sometimes, mentors and chaplains are the only carriers of hope for the youth that exists. Because the opposite of hope is not self-reliance but hopeless. Hopeless reaches into despair. I cannot tell you how many young men I have talked to who cannot imagine, hope, or dream of living past the age of 21. They are hopeless because their lives are full of despair, rage, and endless pain. Those are the kids I carry hope for. And it is simply hope that they will choose life. The hope is not passive, either. We work together to create imagination for the future, a vision, and ultimately set obtainable goals.
When Martin Luther King Jr. said (pretend the language is inclusive of all genders),
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."
This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.
Recently, I have been also discussing the word faith. One of the potential root words for pistos (the ancient Greek word for faith) is trust. I think this brings a better understanding to the word faith. Zip out faith and zip in trust.
This is our hope and this is the trust I go back with.
And it wasn't that he was waiting passively. Certainly. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was working in ways I cannot even imagine. Because he held hope for a better future. And it is better. And we need to keep on working. Always working. Work is the foundation of hope.
This week's practice brings a song from Common, a poem from Mary Karr, wisdom from Langston Hughes, and a photo from Steve Snodgrass. Along with readings from the Jewish and Christian lectionaries, the Qur'an, and the Buddhist tradition. And as always, we have our BIBOLOVE practice from Soyinka Rahim. (BIBO = Breathe In, Breathe Out). Our prayers for this week focus on Aotearoa/New Zealand and Australia.
Reminder: the Synchroblog event, 100 Thousand Poets for Change, will be occurring on September 24 at The Bardo Group Beguines. Along with live events and a Peacemakers for Change event in Tukwila, WA. Put it on your calendars! The coordination & communication hub is on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/100TPCHub/.
Priscilla's Article https://intothebardo.wordpress.com/portfolio/dream-what-you-will-and-will-what-you-dream/
Let my heart rise up to meet mercy, my voice to meet compassion, my hands to meet action.
BIBOLOVE: Breath In, Breath Out--hum
Dream What You Will by Common
Now my rage became freedom,
Writin' dreams in the dark, they far but I can see 'em,
I believe in Heaven more than Hell,
Blessings more than jail,
In the ghetto let love prevail,
With a story to tell, my eyes see the glory and well,
The world waitin' for me to yell "I Have a Dream"
WHO THE MEEK ARE NOT by Mary Karr
Not the bristle-bearded Igors bent
under burlap sacks, not peasants knee-deep
in the rice paddy muck,
nor the serfs whose quarter-moon sickles
make the wheat fall in waves
they don’t get to eat. My friend the Franciscan
nun says we misread
that word meek in the Bible verse that blesses them.
To understand the meek
(she says) picture a great stallion at full gallop
in a meadow, who—
at his master’s voice—seizes up to a stunned
but instant halt.
So with the strain of holding that great power
in check, the muscles
along the arched neck keep eddying,
and only the velvet ears
prick forward, awaiting the next order.
Karr, Mary. Sinners Welcome (Kindle Locations 532-548). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
Jewish Daily Reading: Daily Study from Chabad
Christian Daily Reading: Revised Common Lectionary Daily Reading
Muslim Daily Reading: Daily Verse from The Only Quran
Buddhist Daily Reading: Daily Zen
Please bring your own sacred readings to the daily pattern. If there is something else you'd like to see, let me know!
“Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird,
That cannot fly.”
― Langston Hughes
Weekly prayer focus comes from the World Council of Churches prayer cycle. We know the world needs to be surrounded with prayer and positive thought. This allows us to work through the world country by country. We focus on one set of countries per week with the same prayer, lifting them up.
Focus countries: Aotearoa/New Zealand and Australia
Let us pray.
We know that we fail to live up to being makers of peace. Let us bring in rather than push out, be invitational rather than confrontational--seeing signs of life while decrying the desecration of hope.
For signs of hope and peace, we pray for
- The wondrous diversity of creation and those who seek to be good stewards.
- Aboriginal and Maori cultures and those who try to preserve the best of them.
- Gum trees and kangaroos, wallabies and kiwi fruit, Aoraki/Mt Cook and Uluru/Ayers Rock.
- Coral reefs and the wonders of life they contain.
- Societies becoming multicultural and learning to be more open to those who are different.
- Lively debate and political wit.
For the oppressed and weary, we pray for
- The rights and lives of Aboriginal peoples, who have lived in Australia for thousands of years.
- The rights of Maori people, who were the original inhabitants of Aotearoa/New Zealand.
- An end to discrimination against refugees and migrants seeking a better, safer life.
- Those who oppose violence and war.
For those who suffer, are homeless, or are sick
For those we love, those we hate and those we are indifferent to
For the transformation from ME to WE
Let peace prevail on earth.
So may it be.
Translation by Neil Douglas Klotz, Sufi
O Birther! Creator of the Cosmos,
Focus your light within us— make it useful:
Create your reign of unity now-
Your one desire then acts with ours,
as in all light, so in all forms.
Grant what we need each day in bread and insight.
Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,
as we release the strands we hold of others’ guilt.
Don’t let surface things delude us,
But free us from what holds us back.
From you is born all ruling will,
the power and the life to do,
the song that beautifies all,
from age to age it renews.
Truly— power to these statements—
may they be the ground from which all
my actions grow: Amen.