(Please excuse the immediate salty language. I don’t apologize for it, but I do warn you.)
A dear friend said to me, during a time in her life that can only be described as one of the very worst kinds of emotional roller coasters, “Hope can be a real bitch.”
Or, as Red says it in The Shawshank Redemption, “Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”
Red’s not talking about hoping your birthday brings the exact new pair of shoes you wanted. Or hoping it doesn’t rain on a day you have a picnic planned. Or hoping that it’ll snow for Christmas. These superficial sorts of hopes–thrown around as easily as we (ok, maybe just me) throw around “I love coffee,” are not the b*tch-y sort. They aren’t what gets us in trouble, makes us believe in that which seems impossible. Red’s talking about real hope. Life-changing hope. Hope that gets down in your bones and convinces you that maybe, just maybe, a miracle, a way out of no way, a thing-once-thought-impossible will, in fact, be possible.
In the midst of that which threatens to undo us, hope lifts us our eyes up out of what’s around us and sets our sights on the things we dare to dream of in the deepest sanctuaries of our hearts.
This is terrifying, if you think about it.
In a conversation with another friend today I described grief and baggage (the emotional kind, not your Samsonite) as twin b*tches, because they sneak up on you when you least expect it. Just as think you’ve got them both under control, dealt with appropriately, behaving nicely…boom! whack!…they knock you upside the head, forcing you to fight back out of their clutches.
But here’s the thing…grief and baggage are not so distantly related to hope. More than kissing cousins, they are, because, together, they forge us–whether we like it or not–into something new. True grief levels you. The crap we carry around as a result of our own myriad issues, it can knock you off at the knees before you even know what’s happened. And hope…hope challenges you…double-dog-dares-you, even…to believe that there is something past the grief, the baggage, the pain.
Hope declares that what is now is not what will always be.
We’re comfortable with our grief and pain sometimes, you know. We’ll wrap what’s hurt us around us like some old shawl, beaten and worn and not even protecting us from the cold anymore, but known…a landscape with which we’ve let ourselves become familiar, comfortable, able to move and have being in. We sometimes wear what we feel has betrayed us like a badge of some distinction. “That place…those people…that situation…I cannot get past it.”
I don’t believe there is any rhyme or reason to who or what gets torn apart by evil in this life. I don’t believe we are asked to endure trials to prove our strength or faithfulness. And I do believe horrible, terrible, awful things happen to very good people all the time.
I also believe the writers of Greek mythology were on to something when they spoke of hope being the very last thing to fly–quickly and quietly–out of Pandora’s box. All that is evil in the world set loose…but not without Hope its constant, insistent, determined companion.
There’s a great deal I hope for in my life and for the world. And some of it seems pipe dreams, even at best. Still…I hope. I know no other way to be. And I trust that whoever and whenever this world was created, it was created out of Love, first and foremost.
And this is everything.