Growing Edges “Keeping Hope Alive”

My five-year-old grandson announced to his mom during Week 1 of his stay-at-home schooling that he would like to go on a field trip to the Mayborn museum in Waco.

When told that the museum was closed like his preschool was closed, his brow furrowed as he pondered the dilemma.  “Do they have germs, too?” he asked. It is hard to observe disillusionment and lost innocence in my children and grandchildren.  Frankly, I still don’t find it easy to have my own illusions shattered, but once that happens, I can see better.   Without illusions, I can make more informed choices.

I could never have imagined the horrors of this corona virus.  I could never have imagined the confusion and contradictions that would emerge, adding to the pain of suffering and loss.  Perhaps it was naivete that made it hard for me to imagine pandemic – especially in my country!

In these 41 days I have been sheltering at home, as I wake up, I feel a sense of dread about what the news might hold.  When I check the news and see the number of new cases just within the United States and the mounting number of deaths, a grey cloud of grief engulfs me.

However, as my initial denial about how bad this pandemic could be gave way to the  reality of the pandemic, I recalled a phrase I heard from teacher and writer Lewis Smedes at a retreat at Laity Lodge in the Hill Country of Texas.

Keeping Hope Alive, Smedes’ phrase and a slogan, captured my imagination then and has been a guiding light through some dark times, and after living with that slogan for several years and going through losses and hard times,  I now understand hope better than before.

We use the words hope and wish interchangeably, and we use the word hope casually.  We hope our team wins and we hope we have a good time at a party.  More seriously, we hope a loved one recovers from an illness and we wish we could make a dream happen..  We blow out our birthday candles, making a wish.   We don’t want our sick loved ones to give up hope.

Hope is not wishful thinking.   It is not positive thinking or feel-good religion.  Hope is not the same as optimism, but is an internal spiritual quality.  Each has its place in our mental meanderings; some lead us to survive and thrive, while others trap us in magical thinking.

Wishing for something, day-dreaming about a future outcome and positive thinking about life are all natural for human beings.  As humans we are pain-avoiding, pleasure-seeking creatures, and it is natural for us to avoid pain and want pleasure.

6 replies
  1. Jana
    Jana says:

    Thank you, dear friend, for challenging me to “keep hope alive” in my actions & words (especially social media posts!)

  2. Ann Yeoman
    Ann Yeoman says:

    Thank you, Jeanie. Your words are spot on, as usual. And always a comfort and full of hope. Love to you, Martus, and your loved ones!

  3. Charlotte Sullivan
    Charlotte Sullivan says:

    You make very important point about the difference between wishing, positive thinking, and hope. Hope compels us to action, while the other two are simply thoughts. Hope energizes us to pray, to behave responsibly, to help others, and to seek changes. Hopeful is not an idle state of being. I needed that reminder. Thank you.

    • Jeanie Miley
      Jeanie Miley says:

      Thank you, Susan….Wish I could see you in person! May hope grow in all of us — especially through this time.


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