Last month, writing here in this space about why we continue to fight each other
(and aren’t we all getting tired of it already?), I ended with this sentiment: "I
am full of hope." Naturally, a woman who is full of more hope than anyone I
know, Janice "Hope" Gorman of the Hope Interfaith Center in Mankato, Minn.,
would hone in on such a column and devour it for breakfast.

She called to tell me she liked what she read and invited me to speak at her Sunday
service on December 10 at the YWCA. I assume she wants me to talk about hope, and
how I came to be so full of it. But am I really? What about when I’m down in the
dumps and seem to have no hope at all? Aren’t I just a walking contradiction? Am
I worthy to share my thoughts on such a potent aspect of spirituality?

Walking in the park the other day, I heard from within, "Of course you are."
And then I saw clearly what hope is. You may see it differently, but I thank you
for this opportunity to share my vision.

I think hope is more than a wish that something will somehow happen to make all things
right with the world. It’s more than a chance that something will change in a positive
way. It’s neither a hunch that you’ll win the lottery, nor a desire to be like somebody
else. I think hope is much more than that.

"Hope is the thing with feathers / That perches in the soul, / And sings
the tune – without the words / And never stops at all…" – Emily Dickinson

To me, hope is a part of our soul, what part I cannot say. Perhaps it is the silver
in the cord that metaphysicians say connects the physical body to the Higher Self.
Perhaps it is the sparkle in your eye. Perhaps hope is even more – the presence
of life force itself, love, flowing interdimensionally between soul and Creator,
between atoms and molecules, throughout the vast space that exists throughout and
within.

Aristotle wrote that hope is "a waking dream." Hope is a remembrance
of something much grander than life here in body, on earth, in this space. It reminds
us of purpose, of mission, and that regardless of what happens, all is not lost.
All can never be lost, for we are eternal souls who are inextricably linked with
the infinite, with the timeless.

Hope is the knowing that despite all odds, love will prevail. Yes, hope is a knowing,
a powerful energy that surrounds us, enfolds us and envelops our very being – whether
we can sense it or not. Hope is an innate part of who we are as human beings. It
is what makes us resilient. It makes us warriors. Hope tells us to keep moving forward,
to keep marching to the beat of our own drum. Hope tells us not to limit ourselves,
but to reach for the stars.

Here in America, we like to say that we root for the underdog. Books and movies
that champion the unexpected of heroes are part of our culture. But I suspect that
this is something that prevails in every culture. It must, because hope makes it
so.

"Not only is another world possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I
can hear her breathing." – Arundhati Roy

With every breath, we connect with love itself, for love is the particle that holds
everything together. With every breath, we inhale hope, and we exhale hope. It is
so much a part of who we are that we all too often forget it is here, with us now.
Day in and day out, we are challenged – and we overcome challenges. We breathe in
and we breathe out. We face adversity – and we overcome adversity. And again we
breathe in hope and we breathe out hope.

Sometimes we lose our way. Sometimes we turn inward and crawl into the darkness to
escape the pressure of life. Sometimes we forget that we are eternally connected
with love, with our Creator. Sometimes, in our pain, we choose to forget everything
as we run away from the hurt. That is part of the human experience.

So, too, is the remembering – the choice to turn on the light and to be comforted
by the love of all that we are and the collective love of all who join us in this
seemingly difficult journey in body. Others not only support us, but their presence
reminds us that there is hope. And hope reminds us that all is not lost, that all
can never be lost.

"The first hope in our inventory – the hope that includes and at the same
time transcends all others – must be the hope that love is going to have the last
word." – Arnold J. Toynbee

In the light of the early morning, I walk alongside my dog Ghandi on the wide sidewalk
near the pond, with trees on either side, with squirrels racing time to prepare for
the deep sleep. The geese have moved to warmer water. The foliage, now brown, awaits
rebirth. And I smile, comforted with hope’s presence, with the knowing that love
lies eternal. What more can I ask for? What more is there?

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