Hope is an interesting concept. We use it nearly everyday, “I hope things will work out”, “hope you get well”, hope we make it there on time”, hope we have enough money in the bank”, “hope we sell our house quickly”, “hope I get my vaccine soon”, “I hope my surgery goes well”.
The dictionary says hope means: “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen; a feeling of trust; wanting something to happen. In scripture, hope is the confident expectation of what God has promised and its strength is in God’s faithfulness”. Back to the dictionary, what is the difference between faith and hope; faith and hope are defined in the dictionary as follows; “Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing or a belief not based on proof and Hope is an optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation or desire. Faith says it is so now, and hope says in the future it could happen.” So what is hope for us? When do we call on it and how do we recognize when hope is the outcome we desire?
I took the letters of hope and reflected on where hope and daily living intersect and this is what that reflection brought to my awareness from the perspective of deepening our spiritual life:
Our Spiritual Health: means a life with purpose, an opportunity to deepen our capacity to live a fully human life based in a belief system that grounds us in a balanced understanding of ourselves. It provides the confidence to explore our faith and the associated beliefs in that faith tradition, our values and our ethics, and the many principles that directly and indirectly impact us on a daily basis and influence our morals.
Spiritual Optimism: in general is defined as “ seeing the hand of the Lord as always providing for us and protecting us. It is about knowing that we are never alone, and that we need not fear because our God is a good Father”. In the Extended Ignatian exercises (IEI) SE 23 St Ignatius tells us through Kevin O’Brien, SJ) that “when we show reverence for all the gifts of creation and collaborate with God in using them so that by being good stewards we develop as loving persons in our care for God’s world….Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening life in me.” This is seeing and noticing God in all things and is rooted in “seeing the hand of the Lord as always providing for us…”
Spiritual Perseverance: in Latin perseverance means “one who sees through to the end” and “one who doesn’t yield.” We need this quality of doggedness and determination for our daily labors” …The Greek word for perseverance is hupomone, which is defined as: a steadfastness, constancy, and endurance. It is the practice and noticing of spiritual perseverance, as Ignatius teaches, that guides us through the moments of spiritual consolation and desolation. Spiritual Consolation is moments of “being so on fire with God’s love (we are) impelled (O’Brien) to take some action”. Desolation “is the experience of the soul in heavy darkness or turmoil”. Spiritual consolation does not always mean happiness and spiritual desolation does not always mean sadness”. The Hope in spiritual perseverance is the faith and belief in God’s steadfastness, God’s presence in our everyday life with the invitation to be present and notice.
Spiritual Enthusiasm: “The word enthusiasm is derived from the roots en — in or within — and theos — God. It means having God within or being one with God. People with this gift carry a special kind of energy. They bring warmth and feeling to their relationships and vigor and freshness to their activities.
To practice enthusiasm, makes others aware when you are excited about something. Throw yourself into your projects. Be known for your eagerness, your curiosity, your willingness to give it all you’ve got. Proclaim your passions. Hold nothing back. Sing your heart out.” There is great value in practicing Enthusiasm and what might it be like to practice Enthusiasm in your daily life? What would you notice that is different? Being bored or feeling apathetic about life contributes to a decline or loss of Enthusiasm. Enthusiasm re-energizes the depth of our soul, our mind and our physical body.
Now look at HOPE again. HOPE is at the depth of healthy spirituality in our awareness of God in our everyday life; HOPE is in the optimistic outlook we carry as we journey in relationship with God; HOPE is in the spiritual perseverance to not lose awareness of God ever present within us, and HOPE is in our enthusiasm to intentionally notice God in all things, everyday.
HOPE is in the new snowfall, the weather warming up, more vaccines being distributed, neighbors helping neighbors in Texas, remembrance services for all who have died from Covid, decline in the numbers of new cases and fewer hospitalizations, the stirring of the Spirit within and you notice it. HOPE is what anchors us in challenging times, in moments of desolation and consolation and in our ever-deepening relationship with the God of our understanding. Hold onto HOPE and then share HOPE.
Take in the grace of HOPE and open your heart to the HOPE that comes from Love, the Divine teacher who simply wants, as Richard Rohr says “ [Jesus as teacher] wants us to experience his freedom….He wants us to enjoy his self-realization, his union with the Source of Being, whom he calls Father. It is his own interior experience that he wants to share….We are to enter into his very heart, the center of his being…” Lets HOPE we can.