First Hopes

I love the start of a race, the opening chapter of a book, the first day of class, that first moment I meet a person who will be a forever friend, the first hello from a familiar voice, the first notes of a tune I love, the first light of dawn, the first twinkling star, a new moon, spanking new shoes with a perfect fit, that first cup of coffee on a winter’s morn, that first sip of ice tea on a hot day, that first bite of Holland cheese in a storefront in Haarlem, Sundays, which I’ve long considered the first day of the week, the start of a new month, week, day and a new year.

Fresh starts. New beginnings. The first. New years.

You know what the common denominator between all of these is?

Fresh start/Hope. New beginning/Hope. The First/Hope. New Year/Hope.

When I open a book for the first time I hope I am going to encounter a good story, well-told. When I fly into a new city for the first time, I hope I am going to discover something wonderful. On the first day of class, I have such high hopes for the learning that will take place. I am eager for the discussions and the thinking to begin. When I come to my office at the start of each day, I hope that whatever writing takes place is found worthy.

But here in this place where I greet each page with a prayer of hope, I surround myself not with the new but with old things, well-loved. The Velveteen Rabbits of my life’s journey. Color-coded books, many of them written by cherished friends, line my bookshelves. This painting by Fairhope artist Stacey Howell is on loan from my daughter Shelby. It depicts the Jubilee I wrote about in Will Jesus Buy Me a Doublewide? A daily reminder that we serve a God of wonders.

There’s the Houston Llew Spiritiles, a gift from my children, a nod to my southern childhood, growing up catching lightning bugs in Mason jars, engraved with that hymn I learned as a child, and perhaps you did as well: This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine. 

And beside it? A painting Mama was working on while those tumors grew silent in her brain.

A daily reminder that we are all living unfinished lives: Creating. Imagining. Hoping.

Surely, Creation, viewed from the other side, is every bit as majestic as Mt. Rainier on a sunny day.

A clean slate is grace. Opportunity to erase all the bad and to begin again, hoping that this time, this day, this year, this moment, we will be a better people.

Or at least try.

I am sure the slate will change over the year but for now, it is a quote from Dani Shapiro. She is writing about writing but her insights apply to other aspects of our lives: We have wandered. Now we are back. 

And we are filled with first hopes.

About Karen Spears Zacharias

Author. Speaker. Journalism Instructor. Four kids. Three dogs. One grandson.

  • Gloria

    Perfect reading for me today. Miz Hayley and her team left for Kenya to bring medical care and to love on the children at the Open Arms International Village. New experiences await them!


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