humble hope

Dear Loves,

Easter Sunday has arrived and I awaken thinking about hope.

In the days since I last wrote, my mood has lifted.  Perhaps that has come about simply because I have withdrawn from reading overmuch about the pandemic, which fills me with worry about the future of my children’s lives, with the what if’s of the unknown. I want to be realistic, to face the truth and not hide my head in the sand. Yet, in today’s media climate it is so difficult to sort the truth from the doomsayers. So many of our news sources, on both sides, are tilted towards  a negative bias, reporting only what is terribly wrong with the world from their point of view, that it’s become impossible to not get sucked into their soul draining vortex. Being an empathetic soul does not serve me well in that arena. I feel that negativity as despair. Perhaps despair is indeed what lies beneath their negative world view. No hope in anything.

So, I have taken a little break, peeking just for a glance each day, but not letting the onslaught barrel in through that open door to overtake my house. Still, my heart(h) does not wish to grow cold. Nor do I wish to carry on as if real suffering is not a part of this unfolding human story, but to maintain a balance.

Earlier this week, these balancing words flowed from my pen “I must exhale the hope of transformation even as I breathe in these tragic stories. I must make space for both sorrow and hope in my heart, be willing to behold both terror and beauty, to hear the wailing of death and of birth, to cry out the same from my throat’

And so, throughout this holy week I have been dehydrating camping meals. As if. As if a canoe trip this fall might be possible (the spring trips have already been aborted). As if finding that place of wholeness and healing, of beauty and belonging, of undivided love, of joy and peace, is within reach.

And I have also been sewing masks, as if we might need them for some time, while listening to books about human tragedies of the last century (of all things, these are the ones that became available on my library audible books!) One of them was set during the great dust bowl that devastated hope in the midwest of the United States during the 1930’s. The other tells the story of orphans who were taken from their unwed mothers during the 1950’s, the unadopted ones committed to asylums because the Quebec government would pay the Catholic Church to house them in mental hospitals but did not financially support orphan homes. Last night, my husband and I watched a film that told the story of Native American Residence (assimilation) ­schools in Canada through the eyes of one young boy, who suffered their abuse from 1960-1974, and its aftermath.

We have endured so much.

Yesterday, we tilled a new garden at my son’s new house. He and his wife moved into their home the 1st of February, just before things began to unravel. They both are still able to work- one from home, the other in the hospital – for now. Even as I plant the seeds, I bury in the soil of my heart the worry about their future. Will a nonprofit farmland preservation organization be part of our future economy? Will sports or schools reopen (the daughter-in-law is an athletic trainer, contracted work provided by the local hospital’s sports medicine department. Temporarily she is being used by the hospital for other types of work)

Still, I planted seeds, trusting they will grow. As if. As if the house and its land will remain in their hands.

My daughter, apartment bound in Chicago, has begun dreaming of opening an urban wellness center – yoga, café, bnb, healing arts, planting her own seeds of hope. Will person’s have expendable income for such a place? Will yoga studios, with persons lying 3 feet away from one another while exhaling deeply, be reopening? Will the Stretch Lab, which has been a large portion of her seed money (and her sustenance), where she works one on one with clients, in close physical contact, reopen for business?

Another son and his wife work in the restaurant industry. Before this all began, they signed a contract to buy a new home, downsizing even then to ease their overwhelming financial burden. That new home represented so much hope for them, dreams of family time unstressed by 60 hour work weeks and keeping up with the Jones’. Their mortgage lender is now scrambling to figure out how to approve the sale on unemployment compensation….

‘Will schools reopen in the fall’? is another question that is being bantered. What will happen to all of the children whose parents might be called back to work (and those children whose parents must work even now—in healthcare, food stores, or other essential services) if there is no school for them to attend during the day?

But we all go on, as if. As if travel into the backcountry will be possible for us. As if restaurants and schools will be able to reopen. As if sporting events will resume.  As if expendable income for nonprofits and wellness centers or big building projects (another son is a project manager for a company that manufactures commercial solar installations) will be present. As if persons will be comfortable being face to face again. (ok, confession, I read a NYTimes article that filled my heart with dread about these questions)

Behaving ‘as if’ is not the same as hope, really. In some way, ‘as if’ assumes a re-turn, back to the ways things were. Hope is a different animal. Hope assumes you cannot see what is coming. Hope imagines the unseeable, without specifics of shape. Hope does its best to let go of fear and fall into trust, not blindly, but humbly.

Humility feels appropriate (of course it always is). Humility says we do not know, because we are too small to see over the top of what feels like a monolithic obstacle, but we walk forward one step at a time, nonetheless. Humility accepts that we cannot control, we never really could, but we can Love.

We are all being stripped of Ego.

Humility begs me not to think so much, to get out of my head and into my body. To let my Love flow and grow from there.

Humility. Human. Humus.  Of the earth. It is there that I plant my seeds.

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