Every morning that the sun rises is cause for new hope. Nothing stays the same forever, but is always becoming new again with each day and each new moment.
When we hope for something, we can have the same feeling of confidence that we have in the knowledge that the sun rises every morning. We may not “get” everything we hope for, but if we start to change our way of feeling about being hopeful from one of yearning to one of trust and confident knowledge that whatever we could possibly hope for does exist on some level, then we can relax and enjoy all that each new day and moment brings to us. We can offer our song to the morning along with the birds and all of creation.
I wrote the above a few years ago, as a calming meditation about hope. It is a rather idealistic and simplistic perspective in the current world, us looking out our windows because we are being ordered to stay at home due to a global pandemic. It is a time of anxiety as well as hope.
Hope is a complex thing. As evidence I offer this little anecdote that happened to me: The Mile Hi Church of Religious Science in Denver, which practices New Thought Spirituality, used to buy my plaques to sell in their gift shop. When the purchasing agent saw “Hope” in my samples, she said that they did not practice “hope” because it implies a sense of doubt. To hope for something confirms that the thing isn’t present now. In the New Thought tradition, as far as I understand, one affirms the truth of something by saying that it already exists in consciousness. So,rather than focus on something as-yet-to-come which places the sense of desire perpetually in the future, i.e. never in the present, the fact that the mind can conceive of the hoped-for-thing, means that the thing is now present.
These are fine lines, but relevant to us as we hope to be on the other side of the projected curve of this pandemic. We hope for something that we are not even sure what it will be. We hope to have normal life back again, but we know it will never be the same as it was before, so we can hope for better. T. S. Eliot says in East Coker, after a bleak assessment of present conditions in 1943:
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing
But Rebecca Solnit offers a much more nuanced and hopeful analysis of hope itself in her book Hope In the Dark from 2016:
“Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes — you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It’s the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand. We may not, in fact, know them afterward either, but they matter all the same, and history is full of people whose influence was most powerful after they were gone.”
Change is rarely straightforward… Sometimes it’s as complex as chaos theory and as slow as evolution. Even things that seem to happen suddenly arise from deep roots in the past or from long-dormant seeds.” –end R.S. quote
During this time when we must stay home, inside, our actions are the seeds of hope for the future. Our thoughts are actions, too. We have the choice to sow the ones we want. We can do the hidden, behind-the-scenes work of deep thought that is full with reflection, rest, rejuvenation, hope. And the sun will continue to come up, and spring will bring summer and it’s okay that we don’t know the rest.