Monday, September 1, 2008

Gratitude for the Wellspring of Hope by Barbara Quinn

Today, with a huge hurricane bearing down on the Gulf again, I’ve been thinking about the difficult times so many are facing. I find it hard to find anything to be grateful about in the face of nature's wrecking ball. But in reality, there is much to be grateful for at times like this. The "hurricane hunters" who fly into the storm to get bearings on where it is going, the government officials like Mayor Nagin who urge people to get out, the bus drivers and hospital workers who make sure people get to safety, are humanity at its best.

Besides all these angels of mercy, I have come to be grateful simply for being able to hope. No matter how bad things get, when I dig down deep there is a small spring of hope trickling away waiting for me to discover it. That's what enables us to act. That's what keeps us going in times of need. We hope that we will be all right, that things will change, that there is light on the other side of the darkness.

I rely on that tiny trickle of hope. It’s elusive at times and sometimes I'm afraid it's dried up entirely. But I’ve grown to be patient about waiting for it to grow once again, and fill the chambers of my brain with the silvery liquid of life. When hope gives birth to joy, well, there is nothing better. Joy, like hope, washes over us without any thought and we accept it willingly without questioning. No dwelling on either of those to muck up the day.

Dante’s Hell had a sign over it, “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.” Think of it. A place without hope. Hell is darkness, burning darkness, the complete absence of hope. Living hell. Horrible to contemplate, and horrible to live with. We all have dark days, and when I do I am amazed at the power of the darkness to blot out everything. This darkness is palpable at times, weighing heavily on me, making movement difficult, threatening to plug up the wellspring of hope for good. Nothing matters, nothing attracts, nothing makes sense.

So what do I do when the darkness falls? I dig deep and search until I can find the trickle of silvery hope that is meant to keep flowing, meant to lie in wait until the darkness passes. I can’t hurry the dark, but it does pass, the way night passes. I find one good thing to think about. And then another. I take care of other people to the extent I can. And then good old hope returns, slowly at first and then so bright some people shy away from it. Hope is a good and glorious thing. I wish you hope wherever you are, no matter your situation. It can keep you going and get you to the other side. Act, take care of yourselves and those in need. Hope will follow. Godspeed to all in the path of the hurricane.


Kathryn Magendie said...

I remember hoping the last tripical storm would make it's way here to the mountains, because we needed the rain so bad -- it was this feeling of - well, it's coming anyway, why not send some of it this way? And knowing it would be just rainbands and not the damaging winds and flooding. There is that weird thing where you know the hurricane is BAD but it also brings rains to parched areas if the natural world knows just what it is doing, unmindful of us humans. Of course, hurricanes are a bit overkill, Mother Earth, huh?

Patresa Hartman said...

i like this. what an important trickle to keep tabs on. thank you for the reminder, ms. barabara.

Joanne said...

What a lovely sentiment. I was so glad to see the mass exodus this time. As terribly inconvenient as it must be, at least they are all fleeing to safety, which is all that matters. Even if they suffer material losses, they always have hope. It is a lifeline, isn't it?

Angie Ledbetter said...

What a fantastic post! I wish the people here in Louisiana would've been able to see it before the hurricane hit. We made it through "to the other side" with no damage or loss, and were plenty prepared. Lots of time spent in the dark without electronic distraction to interrupt. Yep, I thought a lot about gratitude in the last week and it gave me hope! ;)

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