Truth and Meaning: Finding Hope
This seemingly endless winter has made me sensitive to the despair many of us are struggling with. This week, I faced my own sense of despair when I attended the first Truth and Justice Tuesday event in Lansing, sponsored by the Prophetic Voices interfaith collaborative. I support their work, but find their approach lacking a sense of urgency. As an impatient activist who appreciates the need for agitators to rattle the cages of status quo, I find their approach too passive.
I left the event feeling…despair. I drove home troubled, struggling to find a reason to ever expect change for a more compassionate society; for a way to a higher ground where no one faces poverty, discrimination, violence and oppression. My colleagues seek hope through prayer. They look for our lost hope by appealing to God for guidance and assistance. And while I recognize the value of prayer, particularly when providing pastoral care, I could not bring myself to pray with legislators who willfully choose power above people, money above morality and regressive thinking above reason.
Like many people, I don’t believe in a higher power that answers prayers or cares about our daily challenges. There may well be a god of some kind, but I believe that we must build Beloved Community here and now with our hands and feet and hearts and minds. A creator would not have endowed us with these gifts with no expectation to use them for the common good. The mountains of snow and ice result not from fate or divine intervention, but simply from an unusual winter. And my sense of lost hope cannot be resolved by prayer, but through working harder to find it and enlisting the help of others to aid in the search.
So, for those who believe in a god, I welcome prayers and the encouragement they provide. But for the rest of us, let me say that I believe hope may be temporarily misplaced, but it is not lost. We may not know where hope hides in our snow-covered landscape, but we can find it. In time, the snow will melt, we will chip away the ice, and we will uncover our lost hope.
When that wave of despair floods over you, ride it out. It is hard — I know — but believe that the fear and pain will pass. We will find hope again and a new spring will dawn.