Saturday, June 27, 2009

A View from the Life Raft

MV Doulos Memorial Clock printed words below: ...

"Hope," he said, "is what keeps me going."

"Going where," she asked, teasingly. "And how soon do you expect to arrive?"

"It's not where or when, but how," he responded.

"How? I don't understand."

"You don't have to understand when you have hope; you just know."

In first century Greek, the word hope refers to confident expectation, the certitude that transcends appearances and rationality. We don't usually get this close in modern speech. Wishful thinking, optimism, sure, but confident expectation? We want things to make sense, we prefer likelihoods and probabilities. Throwing ourselves onto a life raft without proof it can hold is a little too ify.

That is, until a person's got nothing else. Suddenly their perspective changes and the raft looks pretty darned good. When the diagnostics are done and the prognosis is poor, all we want is a chance and we hope because that's how we get one. We're afraid to anticipate because the storm surge is wearing away the sand at our feet faster than a speeding bullet and the last thing we want is to be let down -- not at a time like this. Terrified every word will be "no," we're desperate for the tiniest "yes."

And then something happens. Out of a deep, dark, hidden and unknown place -- a place we've never visited, never dared trust it might exist -- comes the awareness that we can hope. With neither rhyme nor reason nor explanation, we still hope. We hope for hope's sake. We believe because we can. We take hold at the center of our being, pull ourselves up by the bootstraps of courage, and hope with all our might.

"But you have nothing to hope for, it makes no sense." And that's why, because we have nothing to hope for. Hope is reason enough, and there are times when hope is an end in itself. That's what keeps us going. If it's all we have, then it's really all we need.

(Creative Commons image via Wikipedia)

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