I imagine we all are hoping for a better 2021! In my town of Greenbelt, Maryland, we marked the ending of the tumultuous 2020 by all going outside at midnight on New Year’s Eve to bang pots and pans. Not a new idea, yet very therapeutic and symbolic of the feeling of “let this be over” and “something better be ahead.”
The start of a new year is a great time to look at our hopes. I’ve been thinking a lot about hope – what is it anyhow, and where does it come from?
One place to start is distinguishing hope from fantasy. I suspect I share a number of hopes with you. I hope the vaccine works and the threat of the coronavirus is gone before the end of 2021, ideally by summer! I hope the new president and administration allows us to focus as a nation on what is important so we can move away from fear-based hate and disdain for each other and our government.
I hope that the attention to racial inequity and racism that came out of the closet after George Floyd’s murder is real and the coalition working for racial justice grows exponentially. I hope that this work leads to a broader coalition of white people willing to be led by people of color in righting our historical violence against Blacks and people of color and working in partnership for more equitable communities and world.
What makes my hopes or any hope more than wishful thinking? I have a friend who is fond of reminding me that hope without action is fantasy. How do I turn my hopes into action? I live in a community where there are a lot of Black Lives Matter signs on lawns and in windows. Putting up the sign is an action. There are other actions like showing up for the City Council meeting on rethinking our policing system or vigils in support of state legislation, where there are many fewer people present. Some actions are harder than others.
Love, I am told, is a verb. Just like my desire for more racial equity, my desire to be more loving with my wife and children requires that I act to change habits that limit my being loving towards them.
Which actions? What certainty is there that any particular actions will result in my hopes becoming real? For me, this is where hope connects to faith. Clearly, I don’t have the power on my own to change any of the things I hope for. For hope to be more than fantasy for me, I need faith in something bigger than me.
My brother-in-law lives in Europe. On a recent family call discussing the pace of change in America, he reminded us of “cathedral time.” The masons and workers on the famous European cathedrals knew they would not live to see the completion of the cathedral. Most cathedrals took more than a century to build, the one in Cologne 500 years.
Hope allows me to accept that a lot of the changes I hope for may be “cathedral time” changes. Faith in a power greater than me – my belief in a power that desires good for all of us– allows me to continue to hope and work for changes in me and my community and the world. I temper my hope with acceptance that I am not in charge of results or timing. My work is to do the next right action with as much love as I can muster and leave the results to the Power for Good.
Happy 2021, and may you find hope that nurture and guides you!
This post was published on Recovery Speakers on January 5, 2021.