Is There Hope in the Stillness?
There are days which seem full of hope and joy as soon as we open our eyes in the morning. The sun is shining, the birds are singing. We are confident everything is going to work out well and find hope in the stillness of the morning.
On other days we can barely get our eyes open. It feels like all of life is conspiring to drain the hope from us. The stillness we hear is ominous and threatening and we wait for the next obstacle to confront us. We want to stay in bed and forget.
Is it realistic for us to search for hope in the stillness? Can we find hope in the stillness? Is it really there, and how likely is it we will find it?
Some of us wonder why life is so challenging, so difficult. If spiritual life is about the blessings waiting for us why do we feel so unblessed? Why is life such hard work, such a struggle?
Where are the answers we seek so desperately?
Others of us feel exhausted after working so hard for so long. We have dedicated and committed ourselves to demonstrating our abilities but now we have outgrown them. Our friends and relatives have left us to face the rest of life on our own. We are tired and frustrated, lonely and hopeless and in pain.
Is there hope for us in the stillness? Where else is there for us to seek hope?
We feel like we have burned through all our resources. Where else can we turn? How will we find the hope we need to continue?
For many of us, listening to sacred stillness appears to be our last resort.
We sit and listen, hoping against hope for something to rescue us.
Where Is The Hope In the Stillness?
There are people who believe all hope is unrealistic, maybe even the opposite of realistic.
Some people are convinced we need to face the bleakness of our prospects in all their stark darkness. They focus their attention on the obstacles we must overcome, the challenges threatening to hold us back. Some of us are committed to doing whatever it takes to completely understand how hard it will be.
Now, I appreciate a juicy worst case scenario. I have responded, after hearing someone else’s dire assessment, “No, it is even worse than that . . .” We think it motivates us when we take the measure of the most challenging possibilities.
Difficult situations do not inspire us. We are inspired by hope. We remember we have dealt with issues like this before, or we know people who have, and we find hope. Hope pushes us forward, helping us find ways through or around what threatens to defeat us.
Our memories tend to shortchange hope. Hope is not easy to measure or quantify, so we often discount it. We like to think of ourselves as courageous or insightful. Seeing our actions as hopeful does not sound nearly as heroic or significant.
Hope can feel small. It is not the bright flame of persistence or brilliant analysis. Hope is the spark which lights the fire. Without hope, our fire would never be ignited in us.Our hope may feel small or weak because we do not practice exercising it. It may help us to step into situations which will stretch our hope. We may need to build more powerful hope in other people.
We need to give our hope the fuel and oxygen it needs to grow stronger and brighter.
Listening to sacred stillness allows hope to find us.
Finding Our Hope in the Stillness
My own relationship to hope can make it more difficult for hope to grow strong within me.
When I finally decide to take a break and get some rest my fears and anxieties can make hope almost impossible. My listening to sacred stillness can be nearly overwhelmed by seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
I have years of practice constructing those impossible obstacles and challenges.
Even setting out to dismantle some of those roadblocks I get caught up in how durable they are. It begins to feel like there is nothing I can do, no hope in dealing with the challenges I have built.
My experience teaches me the obstacles grow stronger when I give them more power. Paying attention to them, trying to think my way around them, only seems to make them more resistant to my efforts.
The most effective way I have found to deal with these challenges is listening to sacred stillness.
I do not need to generate my own hope. As I sit and listen to the stillness, spiritual life is alive in me.
We practice listening to sacred stillness and begin to find hope in the stillness. Not only do we find rest from our efforts, spiritual life is at work giving us hope.
Listening for Hope in the Stillness
We have tangled the threads of our lives into a knot we cannot sort out on our own. The more we pull and try to untangle our lives the more intransigent the knot becomes.
Spiritual life tells us there is hope in the stillness. We listen for hope in the stillness within us and in the world around us.
Hope is not about all the things we do as we try to create it or spark it in ourselves or others. Our hope is not in our own abilities or efforts.
Where is our hope? We listen for our hope in the stillness.
Listening to sacred stillness can feel like we are wasting time, like we are losing hope. We sit and allow the stillness to pour into us and pour out of us into the world.
As we let go of everything which distracts us we become open to the hope in the stillness.
Are we seeking hope in the stillness today?
How will we listen for hope in the stillness this week?
[Image by bradipo]
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.