Monday, November 24, 2008


We're down to even numbers now of deadly sins and virtues. I shall discuss a virtue today, and another tomorrow so that I can end on a sin (Lust). I have a special surprise topic for one of the days between here and December, to make up the additional day.

Here's what wiki says about hope:

Hope is a belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one's life. Hope is the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. [1] To hope is to wish for something with the expectation of the wish being fulfilled, a key condition in unrequited love. [2] Hopefulness is somewhat different from optimism in that hope is an emotional state, whereas optimism is a conclusion reached through a deliberate thought pattern that leads to a positive attitude.
When used in a religious context, hope carries a connotation of being aware of spiritual truth; see Hope (virtue). In Christian theology, hope is one of the three theological virtues (faith, hope, and charity), which are spiritual gifts of God. In contrast to the above, it is not a physical emotion but a spiritual grace. Hope is distinct from positive thinking, which refers to a therapeutic or systematic process used in psychology for reversing pessimism. The term false hope refers to a hope based entirely around a fantasy or an extremely unlikely outcome.

Have I mentioned that I absolutely love wikipedia?? No kidding. Based mostly in fact, but always with the risk that something there was pulled straight out of someone's ass. Sort of like my life. Based mostly in fact, but sometimes this stuff just comes straight out of my ass.

So, today we look at hope. We've heard a lot about hope lately. Lots and lots about hope. I find it interesting that while hope is a virtue, there does not appear to be a corresponding deadly sin. To me, the opposite of hope is fear, so I guess that doesn't really count as a sin. Or maybe doubt. Or lack of faith. I dunno. Worth pondering, I think.

So hope. Hope is what gets little children to say their prayers on Christmas Eve, both to thank god for baby Jesus, and to put in a final request of the guy in the red suit. Hope is what makes cancer patients keep on with the chemo and the radiation and everything else when the odds are longer than long.

Hope is what kept the Red Sox going for 86 years until that magical October in 2004.

I guess I like best the version of Hope that says that it is one of the three theological virtues and a gift from god. I like that idea a lot.

I'm not a big god-talker kind of person. I am nobody's authority on god or God or Jesus or Allah or Isis or the bible, the Koran or the book of kells. I am just a person going through life, seeking growth and serenity where I find them and where I am. I believe that the entity that so many organized religions call God is everywhere among and around us and that we need not travel to the ends of the earth to be with the divine. I believe that the divine lives within each of us and in the world around us.

So it makes perfect sense for hope to be a gift from the divine. Hope is present when I watch the sun come up in the morning. It streams through the kitchen window and warms my face and blinds my eyes and reminds me that there are more important things than typing on my computer. Like enjoying the new day. Like taking time to be glad for the opportunity it offers and for all that might happen wonderful before it is done.

Hope is wonderful stuff. It doesn't make any sense sometimes, but we still hang on to it. Some days it is all that I have that makes me get out of bed. I have hope that something good will happen. That something will break my way and things will turn around. Being broke all the time gets tiring. It seems like I can never do more than tread water. About the time I get a nice check from a job, my truck needs fixing or the furnace needs oil. There never seems to be any to sock away, only just enough to get by. But I have hope that we'll be OK, that we'll get through, that I'll get enough work to keep us sheltered and fed and warm for the winter. I have hope that I'll figure out this tile job thing tomorrow and that all of the little tiles will line up like they're supposed to and drain properly.

I have hope that my truck won't cost zillions of dollars to fix and I have hope that it will be ready tomorrow afternoon.

Saying it like this makes hope seem a lot like faith, but somehow they are different. I am not sure I have the words this evening to differentiate between the two, but they are different, at least in my mind's eye. I can have faith in something, and I can have hope. I guess faith is more like trust, and hope is more of a gamble, a longer shot, if you will.

I have faith in President elect Barack Obama's abilities, skills and talents. I hope he'll be able to accomplish what needs doing in America in the next few years. See the difference? One is more tangible than the other.

It is the best I can do for tonight. I am tired and tomorrow will be a long day. Good night all.


laughingatchaos said...

Hope is what got me through the last 8 years of this administration.
Hope is what gets me through every day with my sons and their challenges.
Hope is a vital force and if more had it, and linked arms with it, and worked with it, then hope really could change the world.
My HOPE is that HOPE will change the world, starting on January 20.

A Spot of T said...

Hope. I love that word. Growing up hope was the only thing that saved me from falling into a deep pit of despair. It's what I have clung to in the darkest hours of my life. And after reading this "the divine lives within each of us and in the world around us" I believe this to be true as well. A little divine and a little hope. Can't get any better then that.