Hope begins in the dark … the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You don’t give up. — Anne Lamott
You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope. — Thomas Merton
SONGS about HOPE:
- Hope Linger Here by LOW Lily (folk): https://youtu.be/lv9R60CSQ54
- One Day You Will by Lady Antebellum (country): https://youtu.be/EY2Yct8LjOo
- Resilient by Rising Appalachia (country/folk): https://youtu.be/f6nXqDYj8dY
- Resilient by Katy Perry (pop): https://youtu.be/LNHM5CcvMm0
- Reach Out I’ll Be There by The Four Tops (rock): https://youtu.be/P0B0Kv7hiNo
- Hey Hey Hey by Michael Franti & Spearhead (folk/rap): https://youtu.be/IFPobQ-ewiA
- Song of Hope by Natasha Bedingfield (pop): https://youtu.be/H9eqk7Z1O3M
- Song of Hope and Peace by Jonathan van der Lugt: https://youtu.be/nmbTxiwunxI
- Broken and Beautiful by Kelly Clarkson (country/pop): https://youtu.be/aML-Fm7qIuM
- One Life by Boyce Avenue & Friends (pop): https://youtu.be/uIeEA0GdYj4
- I Hope by Gabby Barrett (pop/country): https://youtu.be/qcCH6JpcK5w
- Keep on Keepin On by Daphne Willis (folk): https://youtu.be/d_aMoO3u2lc
- The Climb by Miley Cyrus (pop/country): https://youtu.be/NG2zyeVRcbs
- Medley of Songs of Hope by Saddleback Church (Christian): https://youtu.be/qjTBWewV6O4Hope
- It’s Going to Be Alright by Sara Groves (pop): https://youtu.be/E9yNZ17j8Fg
Blessing of Hope — Jan Richardson
So may we know the hope
that is not just for someday
but for this day—here, now,
in this moment that opens to us:
hope not made of wishes
but of substance,
hope made of sinew
and muscle and bone,
hope that has breath
and a beating heart,
hope that will not keep quiet
and be polite,
hope that knows how to holler when it is called for,
hope that knows how to sing when there seems little cause,
hope that raises us
from the dead—
but this day,
again and again and again.
Advent 1: The Parable
In a mother’s womb were two babies. The first baby asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?”
The second baby replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”
“Nonsense,” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What would that life be?”
“I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths.”
The doubting baby laughed. “This is absurd! Walking is impossible. And eat with our mouths? Ridiculous. The umbilical cord supplies nutrition. Life after delivery is to be excluded. The umbilical cord is too short.”
The second baby held his ground. “I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here.”
The first baby replied, “No one has ever come back from there. Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery it is nothing but darkness and anxiety and it takes us nowhere.”
“Well, I don’t know,” said the twin, “but certainly we will see mother and she will take care of us.”
“Mother?” The first baby guffawed. “You believe in mother? Where is she now?”
The second baby calmly and patiently tried to explain. “She is all around us. It is in her that we live. Without her there would not be this world.”
“Hah. I don’t see her, so it’s only logical that she doesn’t exist.”
To which the other replied, “Sometimes when you’re in silence you can hear her, you can perceive her. I believe there is a reality after delivery and we are here to prepare ourselves for that reality when it comes….”
— Attribution uncertain: According to Wayne Dyer, the original story was told by Henri J. W. Nouwen. Possibly adapted from the writings of Pablo Molinero. Or penned in 1947 by Orthodox Rabbi Yechiel Michel Tucazinsky. Or from the Hungarian writer Útmutató a Léleknek.
The spiritual task of life is to feed hope. Hope is not something to be found outside of us. It lies in the spiritual life we cultivate within.— Joan Chittister
There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.’ No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster. ― Dalai Lama XIV
Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose. ― Viktor E. Frankl
Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality. – Jonas Salk
Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope. – Maya Angelou
They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. – Tom Bodett
Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A world of optimism and hope. A ‘you can do it’ when things are tough. – Richard M. DeVos
A lot of people have their big dreams and get knocked down and don’t have things go their way. And you never give up hope, and you really just hold on to it. Hard work and perseverance. You just keep getting up and getting up, and then you get that breakthrough.– Robert Kraft
Hope is the dream of a soul awake. — French proverb
Dum spiro, spero: While I breath, I hope. — Latin proverb
The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. — Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams
IS HOPE ABOUT NOW or TOMORROW, IS IT a HELP or an OBSTACLE?
Grounded hope has two parts. The “grounded” part refers to a realistic understanding of our lives and ourselves. Instead of painting a smiley face over what has happened, we bravely look at reality head-on. Seeing the situation clearly enables us to work toward recovery.
We cultivate the “hope” part by building confidence in our ability to shape what happens to us next. We start by asking, “Given what’s happened to me, what am I going to do about it? How can I build a better life on top of it?” Then we set goals for ourselves and find sources of motivation to pursue those goals.
At some point, most of us will face the task of recovering, rebuilding, and rebounding from adversity. Grounded hope can help us not just bounce back, but bounce forward. — Lee Daniel Kravetz, Option B, https://optionb.org/build-resilience/advice/steps-to-grounded-hope
Hope is important, because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. But that is the most that hope can do for us – to make some hardship lighter. When I think deeply about the nature of hope, I see something tragic. Since we cling to our hope in the future, we do not focus our energies and capabilities on the present moment. We use hope to believe something better will happen in the future, that we will arrive at peace, or the Kingdom of God. Hope becomes a kind of obstacle. If you can refrain from hoping, you can bring yourself entirely into the present moment and discover the joy that is already here…
Western civilization places so much emphasis on the idea of hope that we sacrifice the present moment. Hope is for the future. It cannot help us discover joy, peace, or enlightenment in the present moment. Many religions are based on the notion of hope, and this teaching about refraining from hope may create a strong reaction. But the shock can bring about something important. I do not mean that you should not have hope, but that hope is not enough. Hope can create an obstacle for you, and if you dwell in the energy of hope, you will not bring yourself back entirely into the present moment. If you re-channel those energies into being aware of what is going on in the present moment, you will be able to make a breakthrough and discover joy and peace right in the present moment, inside of yourself and all around you. — Thich Nhat Hahn, Peace In Every Step
When considered only philosophically, hope, more often than not, seems to be at odds with rational, analytical thinking. But due to its proactive nature, hope in action touches the heart and creates its own validation. A good example of this is found in the philanthropic work of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. In the 2015 Annual Gates Letter he wrote: “Optimism for me isn’t that things will get better; it’s a conviction that we can make things better — that whatever suffering we see, no matter how bad it is we can help people if we don’t lose hope and we don’t look away.” — article from ornishliving.com
Hope is not always comforting or comfortable. Hope asks us to open ourselves to what we do not know, to pray for illumination in this life, to imagine what is beyond our imagining, to bear what seems unbearable. It calls us to keep breathing when beloved lives have left us, to turn toward one another when we might prefer to turn away. Hope draws our eyes and hearts toward a more whole future but propels us also into the present, where Christ waits for us to work with him toward a more whole world now. — Jan Richardson
When God saves people in this life by working through his Spirit to bring them to faith and by leading them to follow Jesus in discipleship, prayer, holiness, hope, and love, such people are designed…to be a sign and foretaste of what God wants to do for the entire cosmos. What’s more, such people are not just to be a sign and foretaste of that ultimate salvation; they are to be part of the means by which God makes this happen both in the present and the future. — NT Wright
What barriers stand between you and Love? Can you really keep out a love that is transformative, or will it pass through your closed door and locked heart, somehow? Yet doubt and questions have their place … they sometimes help open the way.
Man goes far away or near but God never goes far-off;
he is always standing close at hand,
and even if he cannot stay within he goes no further than the door.
— Meister Eckhart
Locked Room Mysteries
Locked room mystery lists. What is your favorite locked room mystery?
- Eight Fiendish Locked Room Mysteries recommended by Barnes & Noble
- Top 10 Locked Room Mysteries recommended by the The Guardian
History of Locked Room Mysteries — Scott Laming (link to article)
The ‘locked room’ mystery is one of the most intriguing sub-genres of crime writing. These books depict a crime committed in what appears to be an entirely impossible situation such as a locked room where the killer has seemingly vanished into thin air.
The concept of a behind-closed-doors mystery has been a plot device since the heyday of Ancient Greece but it was not established as a sub-genre of crime fiction until the 19th century. One of the earliest examples is Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue … Several other authors (Joseph Conrad, Sheridan Le Fanu and Wilkie Collins) also made early attempts at this style of mystery.
The real kick-starter for the genre came in 1892 when Israel Zangwill used the same locked room puzzle concept for his primary plot device in The Big Bow Mystery. However, he added another classic mystery writing element, the red herring … John Dickson Carr, who also wrote as Carter Dickson, is probably the king of the locked room mysteries and The Hollow Man is the Dickson Carr book to read to encounter the best example. Also look up The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux.
ON KNOCKING & ENTERING
Poem — Rumi
One went to the door of the
Beloved and knocked.
A voice asked: “Who is there?”
He answered: “It is I.”
The voice said: “There is no room
here for me and thee.”
The door was shut.
After a year of solitude
this man returned to the door
of the Beloved.
A voice from within asked:
“Who is there?”
The man said:
“It is Thou.”
The door was opened for him.
If I Knew Then (excerpt)
— performed by Lady Antebellum,
written by Charles Kelley /
Richard Belmont (monty) Powell / Anna Wilson
… ‘Cause love only comes
Once in a while
And knocks on your door
And throws you a smile
And takes every breath,
Leaves every scar,
Speaks through your soul
And sings to your heart …
So I say to you, Ask and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. — Jesus Christ
It’s really interesting how music can knock down a wall and be an open connection between you and someone else where something else can’t. When music comes along, it just opens your heart a little more. — Phillip Sweet
If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. — Milton Berle
No man ever got very high by pulling other people down. The intelligent merchant does not knock his competitors. The sensible worker does not knock those who work with him. Don’t knock your friends. Don’t knock your enemies. Don’t knock yourself. — Alfred Lord Tennyson
If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
How strange that nature does not knock, and yet does not intrude!
— Emily Dickinson
I can’t never stop nobody, can’t knock nobody hustle.
— The Notorious B.I.G.
There are five issues that make a fist of a hand that can knock America out cold. They’re lack of jobs, obesity, diabetes, homelessness, and lack of good education. — will.i.am
We know we cannot plant seeds with closed fists. To sow, we must open our hands. — Adolfo Perez Esquivel
You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space. — Johnny Cash
All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant’s revolving door. — Albert Camus
I have become my own version of an optimist. If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door – or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present. — Rabindranath Tagore
In oneself lies the whole world and if you know how to look and learn, the door is there and the key is in your hand. Nobody on earth can give you either the key or the door to open, except yourself. — Jiddu Krishnamurti
The outward man is the swinging door; the inner man is the still hinge. — Meister Eckhart
You close the door on me and tell me I can’t, I’m gonna find a way to get in. — Tyler Perry
Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during the moment. — Carl Sandburg
I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 A.M. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. — Joan Didion
I cannot sleep for dreaming; I cannot dream but I wake and walk about the house as though I’d find you coming through some door. — Arthur Miller
Commentary on Fear, Doubt & Questions: John 20
The fact is that all the great spiritual models of the ages before us found themselves, at one point or another, plunged into doubt, into darkness, into the certainty of uncertainty: Augustine, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Meister Eckhart, John the Baptist, Thomas, Peter, one after another of them all wondered, and wavered, and believed beyond belief. Surely, then, doubt is something to be grateful for, something about which to sing an alleluia. Unlike answers that presume the static nature of God and the spiritual life, doubt stretches us beyond ourselves to the guidance of a God whose face is not always in books. Doubt is what leaves us open to truth, wherever it is, however difficult it may be to accept. But most of all, doubt requires us to reconfirm everything we’ve ever been made to believe is unassailable. Without doubt, life would simply be a series of packaged assumptions, none of them tested, none of them sure, and all of them belonging not to us, but to someone else whose truth we have made our own. — Joan Chittister
… questions … So many of them seemed to imply that people were struggling with the fact that hard things in life are hard. That somehow since they don’t have great positive feelings about God in the midst of their own suffering that this somehow means they lack faith and this worries them. For some reason we tend to think that having faith means unwavering belief, and never doubting and always no matter how awful things get, never ever having negative feelings about God and certainly never wondering if there really is a God. It’s like we’ve forgotten the strong, and totally awesome tradition in the Hebrew Bible of complaining to God. It’s called lamenting – and we should totally reclaim this part of our tradition…I have a friend who says if you’re going to have a praise band in your church, that’s fine but only if you also have a lament band because being the people of God has always meant a whole lot of both praise andlament. — Nadia Bolz-WeberNot surprisingly, Jesus came to visit his disciples, knowing that they would feel defeated and understanding the support they would need in order to move forward. He bestowed peace upon them, and they were overjoyed when he showed them his wounds. They, like Thomas, apparently needed physical proof of the resurrection. Jesus’ return to visit with his disciples appears to have had a clear mission of fortifying them to continue his work. First of all, they would need peace to counter the turbulence of his death, and secondly, they needed evidence of his resurrection to restore their faith. Jesus dealt with these two pressing issues immediately. He did not simply return to celebrate his resurrection, but to prepare them as he sent them forth to continue the work he had begun. — Samuel Cruz, Workingpreacher.org
John is explicit about the prevailing sentiment behind the closed doors. They were behind the doors because of fear, one of the most powerful human emotions. Fear shuts all sorts of doors in our lives. It shuts the door to anyone who is “other” because it sees them as a threat more than a friend. Fear causes us to live out of reptilian fight or flight rather than the deeper virtues of faith, hope, and love. Fear causes us to react to what we fear rather than reflect the one we worship. When one lives in a constant state of fear, it can actually rewire the brain so that everything looks like a threat. Fear had the disciples behind locked doors. Despite the pervasiveness of walls and locked doors, however, Jesus walked right through them. And his greeting to them was one of peace. — Preston Clegg, The Truett Pulpit
And suddenly, in the midst of their fear and confusion, there he was, not with angels, trumpets, or legions, but quietly, without a hint of anger. No accusations, no trouble or turmoil. Only peace. And then, the very next thing, he gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit – he doesn’t just give it to them, but breathes the Spirit into them. — Katheryn Matthews
Of course, it’s not just a story about Thomas. It’s also a story about frightened disciples. So scared, in fact, that, they hid behind locked doors. And who can blame them? They had just witnessed the one they confessed to be the Messiah betrayed by one of his own, tried and convicted by both religious and civil authorities, and then brutally executed. Little wonder they were afraid, assuming that the next step would be to round up Jesus’ followers. But when Jesus comes on the scene, their fear falls away and is replaced by joy… But that’s not the way it works with Thomas. He doubts. He questions. He disbelieves. He’s not satisfied with second-hand reports and wants to see for himself. And again I would say, who can blame him? … do we make room for the Thomases in our world? Because I suspect that their number is legion … And sometimes faith is like that – it needs the freedom of questions and doubt to really spring forth and take hold. Otherwise, faith might simply be confused with a repetition of creedal formulas, or giving your verbal consent to the faith statements of others. But true, vigorous, vibrant faith comes, I think, from the freedom to question, wonder, and doubt … Indeed, I think that if we don’t have any doubts we’re probably not taking the story seriously enough. — David Lose
This is John’s great commission: Jesus breathes on his disciples and tells them to be about the business of forgiveness. John’s commission … does not imply the necessity for conversion of others, but a rebirth of the self. — Jonathan Burkey, aplainaccount.com
Resurrection is relationship. A relationship that will never be broken, that will never be abandoned, that will never know separation, and will forever be. Think this is just a pie-in-the-sky promise? Let’s pause and think about how much a relationship that will never end might mean. We live for and exist in relationships that are not life-giving, that are on the brink of dissolving, that will end, most certainly, because of every fault or no fault of our own. Think about the relationships that have changed over time, that can’t go back to the way they were before, that need to change, but maybe can’t and, in the end, maybe that’s okay. So we exist in tension and frustration and grief because we are not sure how to handle an acceptable demise or how to negotiate what this means for our relationships in the future. Think about the relationships that ended too soon — by terrorist acts, the ruthlessness of illness, the not-so-random events of nature’s reaction to environmental complacency, the sudden separations not planned, never anticipated, and so devastating, for whatever reason and for whatever cause. Our lives exist in, are known through, and defined by broken relationships. But it is not so with our relationship with God. — Karoline Lewis, workingpreacher.org