Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. — Psalm 31:24
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. — Psalm 119:105
The final day of its solo vigil, this candle sums up the week’s theme of hope. Alone it burns. Signals to you. Symbolizes everything you can imagine that hope might offer or promise. Dares to challenge its surroundings and add its small brightness to the world. Reminds you that your life, your heart, your mind, your choices, your voice, and your acts make an impact. — Rev Gail
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
In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary. – Aaron Rose
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. —Jeremiah 29:11
Where is the way to the dwelling of light? — Job 38:18-20
This solo candle lifts its presence as a guide. It shines into the season of waiting and preparing. It becomes a companion.
In day-to-day living, we probably don’t focus on our need for hope. Rather, we seek or rely on hope in times when you struggle.
Another strategy for cultivating hope, especially when you are experiencing challenges, is to find at least one relationship that remains supportive. Just one.
At first, people often respond in overwhelming numbers with tangible gestures of kindness in the wake of trauma or loss. Over time, that network of sympathy and outreach slows down. Yet your human need to foster hope is often a long-term approach to whatever situation has troubled or transformed your life. If you have one or more vital connections that continue to be present throughout your journey, this is often enough to cultivate hope.
Perhaps, on the other hand, you are that significant relationship or form of support for another person. It’s imperative to honor self-care boundaries, so that you maintain your own equilibrium when offering compassion to someone else. Yet realize, even when you set limits, that by caring and showing up consistently for another person, you make a difference. You help foster resilience in another life, as well as your own.
Maybe, in this Advent season, you receive someone else’s light. Or perhaps you offer your own to another. One way or another, hope burns. — Rev Gail
Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic. – Laini Taylor
Listen to the inner light; it will guide you. Listen to the inner peace; it will feed you. Listen to the inner love; it will transform you. — Sri Chinmoy
PRAYER by Richard Rohr God of all Light and Truth, just make sure that I am not a blind man or woman. Keep me humble and honest, and that will be more than enough work for you.
PRAYER by Nadia Bolz-Weber God of desert prophets and unlikely messiahs, humble us. Show us that there is more to see than what we look for. More possibility. More love. More forgiveness … Restore our sight so that we may see you in each other.
PRAYER by St Augustine Late have I loved you, O beauty ever ancient, ever new. Late have I loved you. You have called to me, and have called out, and have shattered my deafness. You have blazed forth with light and have put my blindness to flight! You have sent forth fragrance, and I have drawn in my breath, and I pant after you. I have tasted you, and I hunger and thirst after you. You have touched me, and I have burned for your peace.
At the End of the Day: A Mirror of Questions — John O’Donohue What dreams did I create last night? Where did my eyes linger today? Where was I blind? Where was I hurt without anyone noticing? What did I learn today? What did I read? What new thoughts visited me? What differences did I notice in those closest to me? Whom did I neglect? Where did I neglect myself? What did I begin today that might endure? How were my conversations? What did I do today for the poor and the excluded? Did I remember the dead today? When could I have exposed myself to the risk of something different? Where did I allow myself to receive love? With whom today did I feel most myself? What reached me today? How did it imprint? Who saw me today? What visitations hd I from the past and from the future? What did I avoid today? From the evidence – why was I given this day?
RICHARD ROHR COMMENTARY (from Center for Action & Contemplation) Finally, the great theater-piece Gospel is about a man born blind. … We can only touch upon the surface here, but enough to point you beneath the surface, I hope. Let me list in quick succession the major themes so you cannot miss them:
The “man born blind” is the archetype for all of us at the beginning of life’s journey.
The moral blame game as to why or who caused human suffering is a waste of time.
The man does not even ask to be healed. It is just offered and given.
Religious authorities are often more concerned about control and correct theology than actually healing people. They are presented as narrow and unloving people throughout the story.
Many people have their spiritual conclusions before the facts in front of them. He is a predefined “sinner” and has no credibility for them.
Belief in and love of Jesus come after the fact, subsequent to the healing. Perfect faith or motivation is not always a prerequisite for God’s action. Sometimes God does things for God’s own purposes.
Spirituality is about seeing. Sin is about blindness, or as Saint Gregory of Nyssa will say, “Sin is always a refusal to grow.”
The one who knows little, learns much (what we call “beginner’s mind”) and those who have all their answers already, learn nothing.
Doing as others told me, I was Blind. Coming when others called me, I was Lost. Then I left everyone, myself as well. Then I found Everyone, Myself as well. ― Rumi
COMMENTARY on the STORY of the BLIND MAN
… Of the two choices, Jesus picked a third, unbinding sin from the body, deformity from purity. Before sight was restored, God’s presence was invoked in this marginal space, this “inappropriate” body. God’s presence was invoked within the blind man – within the “imperfect”, within the “other”. And when his eyes were opened, God’s light came pouring out from this man, casting into stark relief the social and religious ideas that had kept him out for so long. — Eliza (UCC minister– see full posting on her blog)
Jesus doesn’t ask the blind guy when he heals him what he’ll be looking at for the rest of his life. — Anne Lamott
It will make a weak man mighty. it will make a mighty man fall. It will fill your heart and hands or leave you with nothing at all. It’s the eyes for the blind and legs for the lame. It is the love for hate and pride for shame. That’s the power of the gospel. — Ben Harper
It was here in the midst of my own community of underside dwellers that I couldn’t help but begin to see the Gospel, the life-changing reality that God is not far off, but here among the brokenness of our lives. — Nadia Bolz-Weber
ON SEEING & BLINDNESS as STATES of SPIRITUAL PERCEPTION
It’s not like ‘I once was blind, and now can see’: it’s more like, ‘I once was blind and now I have really bad vision’. — Nadia Bolz-Weber
Optimism does not mean being blind to the actual reality of a situation. It means maintaining a positive spirit to continue to seek a solution to any given problem. And it means recognizing that any given situation has many different aspects—positive as well as problematic. — Dalai Lama
We are only as blind as we want to be. ― Maya Angelou
Spirituality doesn’t mean a blind belief in a spiritual teaching. Spirituality is a practice that brings relief, communication, and transformation. Everyone needs a spiritual dimension in life. Without a spiritual dimension, it’s very challenging to be with the daily difficulties we all encounter. With a spiritual practice, you’re no longer afraid. Along with your physical body, you have a spiritual body. The practices of breathing, walking, concentration, and understanding can help you greatly in dealing with your emotions, in listening to and embracing your suffering, and in helping you to recognize and embrace the suffering of another person. If we have this capacity, then we can develop a real and lasting spiritual intimacy with ourselves and with others. ― Thich Nhat Hanh
Had the price of looking been blindness, I would have looked. — Ralph Ellison
Blindness is an unfortunate handicap but true vision does not require the eyes. — Helen Keller
Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. — Mark Twain
Our very eyes, Are sometimes, like our judgments, blind. — William Shakespeare
There are not sacred and profane things, places, and moments. There are only sacred and desecrated things, places, and moments-and it is we alone who desecrate them by our blindness and lack of reverence. It is one sacred universe, and we are all a part of it. — Richard Rohr
Man’s basic vice, the source of all his evils, is the act of unfocusing his mind, the suspension of his consciousness, which is not blindness, but the refusal to see, not ignorance, but the refusal to know. — Ayn Rand
An eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. — Martin Luther King, Jr.
NOBEL SPEECH (excerpt from FULL LECTURE) by Toni Morrison “Once upon a time there was an old woman. Blind but wise.” Or was it an old man? A guru, perhaps. Or a griot soothing restless children. I have heard this story, or one exactly like it, in the lore of several cultures. “Once upon a time there was an old woman. Blind. Wise.” In the version I know the woman is the daughter of slaves, black, American, and lives alone in a small house outside of town. Her reputation for wisdom is without peer and without question. Among her people she is both the law and its transgression. The honor she is paid and the awe in which she is held reach beyond her neighborhood to places far away; to the city where the intelligence of rural prophets is the source of much amusement. One day the woman is visited by some young people who seem to be bent on disproving her clairvoyance and showing her up for the fraud they believe she is. Their plan is simple: they enter her house and ask the one question the answer to which rides solely on her difference from them, a difference they regard as a profound disability: her blindness. They stand before her, and one of them says, “Old woman, I hold in my hand a bird. Tell me whether it is living or dead.” She does not answer, and the question is repeated. “Is the bird I am holding living or dead?” Still she doesn’t answer. She is blind and cannot see her visitors, let alone what is in their hands. She does not know their color, gender or homeland. She only knows their motive. The old woman’s silence is so long, the young people have trouble holding their laughter. Finally she speaks and her voice is soft but stern. “I don’t know”, she says. “I don’t know whether the bird you are holding is dead or alive, but what I do know is that it is in your hands. It is in your hands.” Her answer can be taken to mean: if it is dead, you have either found it that way or you have killed it. If it is alive, you can still kill it. Whether it is to stay alive, it is your decision. Whatever the case, it is your responsibility. For parading their power and her helplessness, the young visitors are reprimanded, told they are responsible not only for the act of mockery but also for the small bundle of life sacrificed to achieve its aims. The blind woman shifts attention away from assertions of power to the instrument through which that power is exercised…
I look at the world — Langston Hughes
I look at the world From awakening eyes in a black face— And this is what I see: This fenced-off narrow space Assigned to me.
I look then at the silly walls Through dark eyes in a dark face— And this is what I know: That all these walls oppression builds Will have to go!
I look at my own body With eyes no longer blind— And I see that my own hands can make The world that’s in my mind. Then let us hurry, comrades, The road to find.
Sonnet 19: When I consider how my light is spent— John Milton
When I consider how my light is spent, Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide, And that one Talent which is death to hide Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present My true account, lest he returning chide; ‘Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?’ I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent That murmur, soon replies, ‘God doth not need Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest: They also serve who only stand and wait.’
Perhaps you light the candles in a darkened room or as the sun drops beneath the horizon. The gloaming gathers. You watch the heightened contrast as the flame burns.
In that moment, become aware both of the surrounding twilight and the flickering light. Both light and its opposite — the darkness — are gifts. Each reveals some aspect of our humanity. Each allows vulnerability and calls upon strength. Each nurtures new life.
Within the deep, fecund dormancy of winter, extended sleep precipitates renewal until spring arrives. With every day, sun offers its essential contribution to the cycle of death and rebirth. Hope thrives both in the darkness and the light. — Rev Gail
You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word. — Psalm 119:114
O hope of Israel, its savior in time of trouble, why should you be like a stranger in the land, like a traveler turning aside for the night? — Jeremiah 14:8
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 wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.— Anne Lamott
Hope is the dream of a soul awake. — French proverb