A Preference for Hope
By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin of Walnut Creek, CA, USA
Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you… -1 Peter 3:13-15 NRSV
“Every time in history that men and women have been able to respond to the events of their world as an occasion to change their hearts, an inexhaustible source of generosity and new life has opened, offering hope far beyond the limits of human prediction.” -Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life, Doubleday, 1975, p. 60
The Easter story reminds us-even in death and utter hopelessness-that in the possibility of life hope is found. To have faith in the Risen Christ is to have an inherent preference for hope, even when all hope seems lost. This is the biblical message again and again: the Red Sea opening as the oppressors were closing in, Bartimaeus restored to sight and community, Jesus calming the waves as the disciples cowered on a storm-tossed boat, the cross and the empty tomb.
Consider moments when the possibility for hope was enough to keep you hopeful. Sometimes hope is abundant. Sometimes just a thread of hope is all we have left. Maybe it is basic evolution-this clinging to life-that hoping is part of being human.
We can sense hope all around us-in the regenerative patterns within creation, the way the ground opens to receive dry leaves and each spring new green shoots appear. The first bird calls after a long winter ring bells of hope in the heart. After a tragedy, we share stories of unlikely heroes and unlikely survivors. We cherish life even as we mourn the dead. When we witness other humans rising up to face whatever circumstance is before them with courage and conviction, swells of hope erupt within. See what we are capable of, we say in awe. We begin to remember our own power for love as we watch others risk what they must risk that we might be well and whole.
Hope is Rosa Parks sitting in the front of the bus. It is Mother Teresa gathering up the dying from the streets of Calcutta. It is the woman at the grocery store helping an elderly man lift heavy bags of milk and bread into his trunk. It could be you. It could be me. Hope is becoming fully awake to God’s presence within all things: a persistent, pulsing potential. Wherever you are, just notice. Participate in hope’s daily invitations. Even when no hope can be seen, allow the hope within you to create a way for life to flourish, regardless. Call it resurrection.
Spirit, now live in me.
Breathe deeply and enter a few minutes of silence. Be attentive to where you sense new life emerging in you. Search your memories of the previous day. When did you notice the sacredness of life in surprising places or forms in the world around you?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.