Hope Nonetheless …

Hoping against hope, he believed.
—Romans 4:18

Hope nonetheless.
Hope despite.
Hope regardless.
Hope still.
Hope where we had ceased to hope.
Hope amid what threatens hope.
Hope with those who feed our hope.
Hope beyond what we had hoped.
Hope that draws us past our limits.
Hope that defies expectations.
Hope that questions what we have known.
Hope that makes a way where there is none.
Hope that takes us past our fear.
Hope that calls us into life.
Hope that holds us beyond death.
Hope that blesses those to come.

— Jan Richardson from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons (Rough Translations)

 

I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
— Adrienne Rich from Diving into the Wreck: Poems

 

 

Blessing for a Whole Heart

Blessing for a Whole Heart
You think
if you could just
imagine it,
that would be a beginning;
that if you could envision
what it would look like,
that would be a step
toward a heart
made whole.

This blessing
is for when
you cannot imagine.

This is for when
it is difficult to dream
of what could lie beyond
the fracture, the rupture,
the cleaving through which
has come a life
you do not recognize
as your own.

When all that inhabits you
feels foreign,
your heart made strange
and beating a broken
and unfamiliar song,
let there come
a word of hope,
a voice that speaks
into the shattering,

reminding you
that who you are
is here,
every shard
somehow holding
the whole of you
that you cannot see
but is taking shape
even now,
every part of you
coming together
in an ancient,
remembered rhythm

that bears you
not toward restoration,
not toward return—
as if you could somehow
become unchanged—
but steadily deeper
into the heart of the one
who has already dreamed you
complete.

— Jan Richardson from The Cure For Sorrow

 

Eventually, you will come to understand
that love heals everything,
and love is all there is.

The journey may take many lifetimes,
but you will complete it.
It is impossible not to complete it.
It is not a question of if but of when.

Every situation you create
serves this purpose.

Every experience you encounter
serves this purpose.
― Gary Zukav from Seat Of The Soul

 

Wholeness Does Not Mean Perfection …
It Means Embracing Brokenness As An Integral Part Of Life.

As I look around at my age-mates in late midlife and beyond, it’s not hard to witness despair and its sad consequences. Some consequences are personal, as people who try to deny their inner darkness carry resentment in their hearts and leave it in their wake. Some consequences are political, as people who fear whatever feels alien in themselves project their fear on “the alien other” — while shameless politicians cynically manipulate that fear to play the divide-and-conquer game.

But if we are willing to move through the pain of honest self-examination toward the grace of compassionate self-acceptance, the rewards are great. When we can say, “I am all of the above,” we become more at ease in our own skin, more at home on the face of this richly diverse earth, more accepting of others who are no more or less flawed than we are, and better able to live as life-givers to the end of our days.

How can we learn to embrace with love the whole of who we are — a task that need not and should not await our elder years? Of course there are tried-and-true aids such as meditation, journaling and therapy, all of which have been helpful to me. Here are three others that I’ve found equally helpful, sometimes even more:

  1. Spend as much time as you can experiencing the natural world. Nature constantly reminds me that everything has a place, that nothing need be excluded. That “mess” on the forest floor — like the mess in my own life — has an amazing harmony and hidden wholeness to it.
  2. Move toward, not away from, whatever you fear. I try to remember the advice I was given on an Outward Bound course when I froze with fear on a rock face in the middle of a one-hundred-foot rappel: “If you can’t get out of it, get into it!” If, for example, you fear diversity, get to know “the other’s” story face-to-face and watch your fear shrink as your empathy expands.
  3. Reach out to the younger generation—not to advise them but to learn from them, gain energy from them, and support them on their way. That’s a life-enhancing act that Erik Erikson called “generativity,” an alternative to the “stagnation” of age that sooner or later leads to despair.

Wholeness is the goal, but wholeness does not mean perfection. It means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life. The sooner we understand this, the better. It’s a truth that can set us free to live well, to love well and, in the end, to die well.

I can’t think of a sadder way to die than with the knowledge that I never showed up in this world as who I really am. I can’t think of a more graced way to die than with the knowledge that, as best I knew how, I showed up here as my true self — able to engage the world in freedom and with love because I had become fierce with reality.
― Parker J. Palmer from On the Brink of Everything

 

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