I was awake before the birds this morning.
Awake to hear my husband’s alarm ring out, awake to see the darkness fade into bright sky through that one crooked slat in the blinds. Awake to notice I’d opened my eyes to a Christmas carol, it’s tune softly humming in my mind, my favourite: O Holy Night.
This line A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices over and over.
Hope, I think to myself, head still heavy on the pillow, feet straying to a warm patch over by his feet, what is hope?
My mind immediately answers in the words of Dickinson, because my brain is always a jumble of quotes and poetry, Hope is this thing with feathers, that perches in the soul.
I don’t know Emily, I ponder, rolling over, I think hope is heavier than feathers.
There were moments this year that I’ve tasted hopelessness.
Where hope has seemed less like the thrill from my favourite carol, and more like a far away idea, evasive and selective. Where are you? I’d whisper to the dark, Is there hope to be found here?
And through valleys of hopelessness, I found that hope was something I could not escape.
I cannot hide from it.
I cannot give it up.
I cannot let it go.
Somehow, hope is my act of defiance.
That I dare hold on to hope, in the face of so much that feels hopeless.
That I defiantly keep believing that tomorrow will bring the answers. And if not tomorrow, then the day after that.
I’ve found time and again, that hope is the life raft in a rough sea.
Hope doesn’t still the storm, or placate the waves, but it gives us something to hold on to. Something that causes us to say, with a defiant upward tilt of our chin, Well I think the answer might still come. Maybe tomorrow.
And after a thousand tomorrows, after disappointment threatens to drown us, still we cling to that raft, and we stay afloat, buoyant in the churning and unpredictable waves.
The defiance in us dares to believe that tomorrow is a new day, and there it is, the fresh hope again that in this new day the answer will come, the miracle will arrive, the storm will cease.
We cling on for dear life to the life raft, and we feel our fingers slipping and we’re tired, and it takes everything for us to say the words out loud;
This is hard.
I feel alone.
I need help.
And I’ve found that even if my aching fingers slip, loosen, let go, instead of drowning, I find myself pulled in, and up.
It was a phone call, with a smiling voice on the other end.
It was a gift, a book wrapped in paper, unexpected.
It was an aunty’s empathetic ear over a morning cup of tea.
It was a city jaunt in the comforting company of old friends.
And then I realise that I don’t have to hold so tight after all, there are other hands holding us, that had already laid hold of us, as we laid a hold of all the hope we could muster.
And it anchors our souls, this knowing we are held, not adrift in a sea of chaos*
And right now, more than ever, our world is weary.
We’ve lost jobs, businesses, loved ones, friendships, communities, certainty.
Here’s a hand though – grab hold if you need to. Reach out, call for help, hold on.
Tomorrow is a new day.
* Elisabeth Eliot