Becoming Open to Hope
Being hopeful is not necessarily my first inclination. I often look for problems first and tend to savor a good worst case scenario.
Part of my reaction is based in my personality. I was brought up to see people who got too hopeful too quickly as naive. My training was to look for problems I could solve. Identifying challenges and how to meet them was more practical than finding hope.
Over time I became indifferent, and then even resistant, to hope. I learned to believe more in my own ability to see problems and solve them than in being hopeful.
My hope was built on my own abilities to understand difficulties and how to resolve them.
When I was faced with obstacles I could neither easily sort out nor overcome I realized I needed more. It was not enough for me to hope in my own skills and strengths.
I needed more hope than I could give myself.
It took me quite a while to admit I needed more hope than I had. I also explored a number of different sources of hope before I found what worked for me.
There are still times when I do not want to admit it, but hope does not grow from my skills. Hope is more than I can do myself, beyond my own understanding.
I awoke to the fact that hope is outside my control. When we recognize that we begin becoming open to hope.
A Year of Exploring Hope
For me, this has been a year of becoming open to hope.
Practicing and discerning hope was my practice for Lent, back in the spring. I have worked on hope more this year than I had for quite a while before. As I have it hope up to the light, turning it to see its different angles, I have learned about hope.
There have been times when I did not really hold out much hope. Working hard and persisting seemed more important that being particularly hopeful. I think I was more fatalistic than hopeful.
It became obvious, even to me, I was not in control of every situation. I got to a point where I realized what I was doing was not working. Even though I had thought things through and believed in my plans, things did not make sense.
I began to see hope was more than I could hold in my hand. It was beyond my ability to grasp.
Rather than continuing to try thinking my way through to my goals, I started listening.
As I took time to listen to sacred stillness I began to hear the voice of hope.
It became clear to me there was more hope in the sacred stillness than in all my efforts. What I was doing was not working. I could see it was time to try another approach.
By being willing to listen I began becoming more open to hope.
My understanding of hope has begun to change. Hope is more tangible than wishing, than dreaming.
Hope draws us in and sparks the flame of our expectations.
Listening to Sacred Stillness With Hope
I am not spending this year working to strengthen the hope within me.
Hope is growing in me as I open myself to it and take time to listen to sacred stillness.
As we grow accustomed to listening to sacred stillness, we become more open to hope. Our hope is there, waiting to be discovered in the stillness.
Hope tends to be introverted for me. It does not call attention to itself, does not jump around or call our name. Hope sits quietly in the stillness and we need to listen well to find it.
There are things I hope will happen though I do not know whether my hope is in them.
I hope I help people grow deeper in spiritual life. I hope I make a living while I make a life. Hope is more than that.
My hope tells me there is more, even in my doubts, than I can see right now. Hope is the expectation things will get better. It is the reminder we can learn and adapt, that learning and adapting help us be open to hope.
There are times when hope is the sun in the sky and times when hope is a rainy day. We may hope we can make it one more day, or hope we can stop and rest before continuing.
Our hope grows as we take time to listen to the source of our hope, sacred stillness.
Hope grows within us as we become more open to hope and as we share it with others.
Stepping Into New Hope
We demonstrate we are open to hope by taking our next step.
Not forcing ourselves forward, not slogging through what holds us back. We listen to sacred stillness until we know where our hope is drawing us to step. When we know, we step into new hope.
This year has been full of next steps, full of new beginnings for me. It is not as if I have mastered this whole idea of hope and can teach you in a few easy steps. Hope can be a challenge.
We are not trying to master hope, but to become more open to hope. It is not about mapping the entire trip of hope, but about taking our next step.
Hope is not a goal or a destination. It shapes and inspires us, drawing us into itself and encouraging us.
This year may be a fluke for me. Hope may not continue growing in me. I am not certain I will continue becoming more open to hope, but I hope I do.
How are we becoming more open to hope this week?
Where is our hope drawing us to step next?
[Image by Justin Ried]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and leadership coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and university professor, and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com, and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.