BY E.M. Fortier
“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Some would say they see a barren landscape; a world full of fear and loneliness. Looking up to the rain filled sky, I see a world in an act of defiance. The trees are still budding; the wind is still breathing new life into the day; the birds are still flitting with joy at the prospect of their young’s impending arrival in the nests they continue to build; the neighbor still waives from afar on his jog down the trail; the children laugh and cry with the cycle of day no different than before; the old man still holds his love’s hand as he has for decades upon decades. Hope springs from the same plains, rivers, forests and mountains that have seen the world’s sorrows from the dawn of time. The breath of life awakens this hope in all of creation.
We must find that hope within us. We are greater than the fear. We are greater than the despair. We are greater than the time in history we were born into.
Hope isn’t something we are used to actively pursuing or thinking about. We use it regularly – I hope to get a good night’s sleep; I hope to get a raise; I hope to be there . . . But hope in these daily uses is another word for “want” or “desire.” Yet, at its beginning, hope meant to have a faith, a trust in something. We must trust in something beyond our current situation.
In my career I worked in a field that tested my ability to hope. To see the depths of despair people endure and to feel helpless to fix that despair is the greatest test I have faced. But every single time I thought I had come to a place of no return; when I thought all was lost – the victims of such despair would be what brought me back. They were stronger than the worst things they had faced. They were stronger because they survived it. They grew, they laughed again, they loved deeply, they found peace and joy. In spite of all they lost, they did not stop trusting there was a reason, there was a purpose, there was a future.
We can trust ourselves to endure what lies ahead. We can trust ourselves to survive what grief may come and to bravely face it with a hope beyond want and in the realm of a belief that there is a future.