Easter has come and gone. Often in many places around the world this means shared meals, and hopefully some chocolate whether it’s bunny-shaped, or not. And for many more people, it means attending church and contemplating resurrection. Did I just lose you with those words? It’s okay. Maybe, if you’re like me, you keep clear of the guilt-inducing rituals of your childhood associated with words like faith and grace and hope. But this is such beautiful language for when we need it most.
I find myself craving a disciplined practice of simple rituals. Except I don’t know what that should look like. To whom or for what would I be performing them? In quiet, reflective times I am compelled to write; I identify with certain songs and lyrics; I absorb podcasts and books. Could this be my modern-day version of ritual and reflection? It does help my troubled mind; I know that.
“Hope is a renewable resource for moving through life as it is, not as we wish it to be.” – Krista Tippett from her book “Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living”.
Isn’t this wonderful? Like a delicious marmalade, it is jam-packed with goodness. Firstly, it doesn’t say you need a certain quantity of hope to get by. A smidgen of hope is enough. Secondly, hope is renewable. It can never be finished and it is available to us as a resource to draw from. I don’t know the source of hope. But I’ve often felt degrees different after a dream or talking with a friend. Thirdly, life is movement. It requires action for us but it is neither a mountain to conquer or an event to slumber through. It’s about doing the next right, true thing because it can get hard and messy sometimes. Finally, the simple act of wishing our lives to be different is dangerous business. But we’re human and we tend to do that sometimes. But that is exactly what hope is for! Isn’t that wonderful?
Thinking about hope reminds me of a scene from Anne of Green Gables (if you’re not from Canada, you may not get this reference). When Anne (an orphan) first arrives at Green Gables, she worries over being sent back to the orphanage. When Marilla decides to put her up for the night and asks her if she would like to eat she says, “I can never eat when I’m in the depths of despair.” Anne asks Marilla if she’s ever felt this way or if she can imagine feeling this way. Marilla tells her in a straight forward manner, “No, I cannot. To despair is to turn your back on God.” And perhaps by feeling down and turning from an imposed upon religion from childhood, I have also turned my back on God as a source of hope.
Certainly life has seasons: some of it feels like winter hibernation, some of it feels like drinking in sunshine. But I want to keep looking to hope. So on Easter Sunday, while many families around me in Ethiopia were going to church, I did some contemplation on words like grace, faith and hope. And I can understand how belief in resurrection renews hope. Because I feel it too.