If you know me in real life, you know my favorite word is Hope. Refuge friends tease me about it all of the time, and for good reason. I love the word and have written it on my share of rocks over the years. I know hope is dangerous. It’s vulnerable. It’s scary.
But it is the fuel that keeps us going.
No matter how dark it can get, a shred of hope, the tiniest of sparks, the smallest ember, can make a difference, sometimes between life and death.
I’ve seen people live and die with no hope, and people who have had hope that stunned me, like how in the $*#^!&!$ could they still have hope after what just happened to them? I’ve seen people resist it, refuse it because it just feels too foreign and scary, and others who soaked it in.
This past Sunday was the start of Advent, the season of waiting in the anticipation of Christ’s birth. I do love this season because I like the intention, the extra reminder of God-incarnate through Jesus and how Emmanuel, God with us, in the flesh changed the world, changes me. I also like the rituals of lighting the candle each week, remembering the story, and trying as best I can to be open to ongoing formation in my life and faith. At The Refuge, we celebrate Advent Refuge-style, a mix of folks who hate the holidays for good reason and those who love to sing Christmas Carols. A mix of people with great hope and a mix of people holding on by a thread. This past Sunday we lit the Hope candle.
In the midst of going a bit bonkers over the reality of the election and what it’s touched in me about unhealthy power and so many of the things I abhor, I know one thing for sure–I still have Hope.
It wanes when I start pondering the future, when I consider the battles ahead, when the reality of our broken church flares, when I look at all the flaws of the world, when I consider that even though I’ve come a long way, I’ve also only begun.
But then, I remember.
Then I open my eyes.
Then I soften my heart.
Then, my ears perk.
And I begin to notice that all around me there is Hope. Real, beautiful, tangible, weird, mysterious, creative Hope.
Piercing through darkness to bring life and good and faith and joy.
And that’s one of the reasons I still believe in Jesus. Our hope was never about easy or smooth or comfortable or power or might. Our hope is in the upside down ways of the cross, where the first will be last and the last will be first. Where we lay our lives down for our friends. Where we give up our way for another. Where we enter places no one else is willing to go. Where the dark doesn’t scare us because God’s light is in us. Where the structures and systems and powers of this world cannot control us even though they want to strip our dignity and rob our hope.
So in the midst of the crazy, the scary, the oh-my-God-is-this-really-happening-in-the-world, here’s where I see hope right now:
I see it in my friends, who are still standing, still showing up in community, still breathing despite so many obstacles and the cards stacked against them. Their courage and perseverance is freaking beautiful.
I see it in so many faith shifting men and women I know, who have unraveled the things that hindered and are holding on to the things that free. I truly believe this group is going to be one of the most powerful forces in being bearers of light and hope in the years to come.
I see it in the protests, the people on the streets and in the wilderness, protecting water and dignity and lives that matter and resisting the power that has tried to ruin them.
I see it in my children, young adults, who will not stand for inequality. Period. No questions asked.
I see it in the church (yes, I still do love the church, in all its mess and all it’s glory) because despite the disgusting ways it’s been hijacked, there are still so many amazing followers of Jesus who are part of traditional churches and others who rebelling against the establishment but finding a way to live out their faith in really tangible ways.
I see it in the words of my friend currently being held in immigration detention awaiting possible deportation, that despite so many unknowns he still has faith and is finding a way to gather with friends and pray and share food and support one another.
I see it in my Facebook feed, watching people who have stayed on the sidelines and not spoken out out of fear who are now sharing more boldly, risking more bravely, and refusing to stay silent.
I see it in the #FuckThisShit Advent Devotional, a gritty and real and exactly-what-I-needed-this-season guide through the next several weeks; God’s deeper truths and a bold and honest call to action are all over it.
I see hope in the Hope candle on the table in our little sweet space at The Refuge, that flame lit that reminds me that no matter how dark it can get, light does pierce through. It just does.
It helps today to remember.
And to remember this most importantly: Hope is not happy, not easy, not sappy. It is “gritty and grounded” (this is the best article I’ve read since the election) and raw and vulnerable. That’s what will sustain us. That’s what this next chapter of our story will need.
I’d love to know what’s bringing you Hope right now?
It’s always good to borrow some from each other.
Love and Hope from Colorado, Kathy