I find, much to my surprise, that I am, once again, stumped by hope. That is, I'm having a hard time daring to do it. Life is so very fragile, and the world can be so dark. One false move - or, perhaps, any move at all - will upset that delicate balance, which feels too much like the whole of existence dancing on the head of a pin. Hope requires that I move somewhere, anywhere, even a hair's breadth from the spot I am in, but I see that empty, endless expanse laid out all around, and I am afraid I will fall into forever.
That's hope for you: dangerous, and wrapped up into way too many metaphors to do anybody any good. Least of all, me. Here's a secret though, my secret: I so want to hope - fearlessly, courageously, defiantly, in the face of every fear or foe.
But perhaps. Maybe. Just maybe, I got it wrong. That vision, I think, is for the fantasy novel hero, the shield maiden, donning her armor and wielding her sword, stalwart and sure. That's not hope. Not really. That's a fantasy, nothing more. Neither is hope is not a wish, or empty words of hearts filled with thoughts and prayers. Lovely sentiments, to be sure - but these are not hope.
Hope is feeling the dread - that icy lick of fear you get just microseconds after the news of (choose all that apply): the death of a loved one; a difficult (scary) diagnosis; some disaster that is big and huge and all-encompassing. And in spite of all that ice and dread and fear - you move anyway. You hold a hand, comfort an anguished heart, breathe, stand with, witness, give strength, cook a meal, drive a carpool, smile, sing, laugh, talk, listen. And even (I hate to admit this) pray. Because sometimes, that's all that's left, the only thread you have to hold onto: prayer - a conversation with God, even one filled with every swear word you can think of, even one with no words at all.
Hope is an action.
As I said, I've not been practicing much hope these days. Instead, I've been staying a little bit stuck in the icy dread. I don't like it much (although I am quite comfortable staying so stuck; I've had way too much practise here), this precarious perch upon which I've climbed. Frankly, my balance isn't too good these days, and my arms are getting really tired. I need to let go.
An old story keeps running through my head:
Rabbi, what if I don't feel like praying?
Pray until you do...
Perhaps it is the same with hope. What if I am afraid to hope? What if I'm too stuck? What if I don't feel like I can hope?
Hope until I do.
Until then, I will dance as gracefully as I know how, high up on this pin, and try - with all my might - to fall, to let go - to hope that one day, I will.