Yes, I know the title is backward. In some ways, though, it’s appropriate.
Spring is the season of hope. Summer brings growth. Fall is a time to gather and prepare. Winter is a time of dormancy. But with spring, we experience a season that seems to start everything again from scratch. That’s a good thing.
With the new, there is hope for the best. Our garden will do better this year. So will our baseball team. At least we hope. But even as the year ages, it’s good to have a season to practice hope, regardless of the ultimate production of the garden or the fate of our favorite baseball team. By practicing hope every spring, we may be able to carry it with us as a habit, hopefully eternally.
We humans need to hope. After all, it’s one of the three greatest things, according to the Bible, along with faith and love. In fact, hope seems foundational to the other two. Faith is a difficult thing to grasp in the first place. Without hope for something better, there is little point in having faith.
Despair often comes to mind as an antonym for hope. But the thesaurus also lists hate and fear as antonyms for hope. We humans have much to despair about as it is, but if fear and hate are also opposed to hope, it seems that even love is in jeopardy. Any love that could still be possible would seem to be only a sad remembrance of what could have been, not a promise of joy.
I’ve had some experience with desperately needing hope. I’ve had two major strokes and I’ve had cancer. I’ve laid paralyzed in a hospital bed, thinking of my likely future in that condition with the little cognitive ability that I had left. There was no expectation that I would recover significantly, if at all. But recovery of some sort wasn’t impossible. So I hoped. After all, hope was all I could do without the ability to move or to think.
I started this blog a number of years ago to reflect on my health adversity, not for the sake of simply describing a narrative, but with a message of hope. The blog has been a slow walk for me. I’ve raised kids and I’ve buried aging relatives since my first stroke 15 years ago. I also have long term effects from my strokes that limit my energy levels. But I have also held back from fully sharing my story because I thought I was too fortunate, too blessed and too lacking in credibility to offer any comments about digging deep for hope. Maybe if I had never made it out of the wheelchair or maybe if I remained unable to read or reason, then I would be qualified to talk about what I had learned.
In reality, my reluctance to share has really just been a defense mechanism. Maybe I needed to recover as well as I did in order to not have my hope crushed, I don’t know. But I do know that hope carried me forward when I wasn’t expected to walk or move my right arm. The doctors and therapists couldn’t tell me that I might have some recovery. But I still hoped that I would so I kept on trying anything they would have me do. I had just enough cognitive ability to know that I had lost much of my cognitive ability. But the fact that I could think at all made me hope that I could think enough to get by.
And I learned a few other things. Hope does not require the ability to move or to think. It exists independent of those things. Hope does not need to make sense. In fact, if hope made sense, then it probably wouldn’t fall in the category of hope. Also, hope can be flexible. The thing hoped for does not necessarily need to come to pass. It’s the act of hoping that is important.
So as I journey forward on my blog, I’m going to hope that I can offer something sturdy and real and wonderful to anyone who may need it. I don’t need to feel qualified to offer a message of hope. I just need to share it in case there is someone, somewhere who needs to hear it. You see, the other thing I learned about hope is that it doesn’t have any one owner. Nor does it require any ego space, any glory or any fanfare. Hope is good for its own sake. After all, it has some really unpleasant antonyms. Hope makes a lot more sense than it’s alternatives. It’s good that we have a whole season to devote to its practice
Copyright April 13, 2019 by Daniel Blake