This Christmas was the first Christmas where it happened. Max sat, surrounded by a mountain of carefully picked out gifts and cried. Santa Claus and I, we had failed to deliver him the Christmas he had hoped for–or rather the gifts on his list he had so desperately wanted.

I took a deep breath, and realized that this was a moment to teach. Teach about disappointment and recovering from it. Teach about the bounty of gifts that he had, how lucky he was. Odette told him stories about what children in Rwanda get for Christmas. Slowly but surely his big old tears stopped falling and he started to happily, joyfully play with the gifts he had received, suddenly aware of the magic they represented.

Looking back at our Christmas now, I can’t help but see a powerful lesson beginning to unfold for me too.

Ironically I began my winter by teaching the lesson I would spend all winter learning. About the trickiness of hope and attaching myself to vision of what my future happiness looks like. About the disappointment that comes from yearning and longing and about how I lose sight of the gifts in my life when I am looking for that one elusive cherished desire. And I learned this winter about how while hope can leave me drunk on possibility of how wonderful it might all be one day, the hangover is an empty feeling and the sneaking suspicion that maybe I am not really quite enough.

Yeah, this winter, in very small ways hope kicked my ass. And I saw hope for the sneaky character it is, something that makes me feel warm and fuzzy now and again but something which can turn every day into the Christmas where I sit surrounded by gifts sobbing.

I have to admit, as spring time images of hope come fluttering into view, I have not done a good job receiving them openly. I have wanted to scream at the top of my lungs–OH NO PEOPLE….DON’T YOU DARE COME TALKING TO ME ABOUT HOPE. DON’T YOU SEE HOW TRICKY AND DESTRUCTIVE IT IS? YOU THINK I AM GOING TO GET SUCKED IN AND SET MYSELF UP FOR DISAPPOINTMENT AND MISS ALL THE GIFTS IN MY LIFE? YOU MAY BE A SUCKER…BUT I AM NOT!

And yet, something tugged on me and my grouchy, self-righteous ways. Tugged on me like a little child pulling on my sleeve. The child that does not give up, saying “mom…mom….mom…” over and over again until I listened, maybe a little reluctantly.

What if HOPE isn’t about the future? What if HOPE is not another word for longing? What if HOPE isn’t about holding onto something that hasn’t yet materialized? What if we have been misusing the word all this time? What if we have somehow bent it out of shape? What if all this time that I was “holding onto HOPE” I was clutching something else?

What if HOPE is about the present? What if HOPE is about recognizing the beauty and the joy even in the most mundane and ordinary moment. What if HOPE is about finding love in the midst of horrible pain and just focusing in like a laser on it–not because it predicts a better day coming, but simply because it is beautiful and perfect exactly as it is? What if HOPE is about seeing the possibility in now? The action I can take right now that opens up a whole new way of being, regardless of where it takes me? That makes joy and love present right now–regardless of what happens next? What if HOPE is about savoring every moment of life for the gifts and the joy and even the challenges and lessons that it brings?

What if I had it all wrong all these years? Well…what a wonderful time to start again, I suppose.

These are some of the things that I have been thinking about all winter…that I have been turning over in my head as spring has started to bloom.

Jen Lemen and Stephanie Roberts have this lovely project called Picture Hope. They have a proposal to travel the world looking for images of hope and capture them on film. They have been voted as the number one most popular idea and now they are going with 19 other ideas to a final adjudication. I am so proud of my friend Jen and her soulsister Stephanie. I suppose it would be easy to start hoping that it all comes together and that they win the big prize. Truth is, I know that they may or may not win in the end and I can’t let my little fragile heart go wishing. Instead I will simply sit in the joy that through daring to see the possibility and take a step forward to challenge us all to see hope–not as something abstract and future oriented but something that can be captured with a lens they are already living the dream.

4 Responses to “Rediscovering hope”

  1. Elizabeth Harper Says:

    Lovely post today…definitely thought provoking!

    Re-thinking Hope….I like that.

  2. Trish Says:

    Magical Meg,

    Yet again you have at once captured what I need most to hear TODAY and for this I thank you.

    I H*O*P*E you know how much value, love and friendship you have gifted me with. Thank you.

    Trish

  3. Sinjun (Holly) Sharp Says:

    very interesting…i have had many conversations recently about hope. my lyme buddies and i agree that we can only live in the moment…we can’t plan our futures..no one knows how when or even to what degree we will get “better.”

    we have talked about whether having hope of any kind is worth the effort. whether its hoping a test will reveal we are getting better…or..hope that the pain subsides for even a few hours…hope that our lives will turn out ok…

    so many people tell me to have hope…that its critical to my getting better. but having my hopes dashed again and again can take its toll. and what exactly am i hoping for? i may have no more hopeful thoughts for myself (it involves too much future-thinking) but i certainly still have hope for others…

    sorry…i have total lyme brain and can’t express myself well.. so sorry if this incoherent.

  4. Ria Says:

    This is a very beautiful post. Thank you 🙂