A Basket Of Fragments
Lynne Elwinger, O.C.D.
The mystery of hope, after consistently taking the center stage of my meditation for months, now seems determined to remain there for this year's Lenten journey. Hope-bread should be shared, and in this spirit, I offer you a basket of the fragments I have received.
Reflecting on hope in Seasons of Your Heart , Sr. Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB, notes that in her meditation it came to her that the action of hope is very similar to the action of baking powder. She relates her own experience of it in this way: “…quietly getting what is best in me to rise, awakening the hint of eternity within.” My own experience could not have been better described!
Where does this hope come from, which repeatedly surprises us with its unexpected appearances in the midst of situations that don't seem at all hopeful? What does it mean when hope arises in our hearts? How are we called to respond to this hope? In my own meditation, these are some of the questions that I have been pondering.
Nothing Can Ever Separate Us
I have found that the hope that breaks into our lives at unpredictable times and in ways not our own, is a sign of God's presence. Hope, like everything else that comes from God, is mysterious in its workings, but evident in the experiences we have of it. It keeps coming to us to remind us that the reign of God is planted in our hearts and souls. Like baking powder or yeast, this hope beackons us to rise and expand and live into our unique potential. We become the bread of God's hope. As a constant reminder of God's covenant of love with us, hope calls us to reflect that divine love in the way we live life each day. A challenging proposition, I say to myself. But then I recall that we have the help of this same incredible love, from which nothing can ever separate us (see Romans 8:31ff) - an amazing gift.
Hope is a doorway to the depths of our oneness with our Creator. Our seeking for God is the result of God's having first sought us. Our hoping is only a reflection of God's great hope for us. We have been given this hope as an eternal flame in our hearts, which reminds us by its very presence that all our current limitations can be disolved. Our future possibilities shine before us within this flame, beckoning us onward. The arising of hope gives us staying power in difficult situations. Perhaps less a matter of belief or faith than it is a concrete experience of God, this hope comes at times when we are feeling most hopeless and through no action of our own. It shows us that our lives are embraced by a Love greater than we can imagine.
Footprints Across The Landscape
Hope is the native land of all who seek that "something more" of life, found beyond our ordinary sense perceptions, which in spontaneous appearances calls us to remembrance of who we truly are in the heart of God. These seemingly irrational hope experiences in the face of adversity and inner and outer chaos are, in fact, the footprints of God across the landscape of our lives. We are called to follow them ever deeper into the divine mystery. Following this path, we join our own hoping to God's hoping in and for us. We begin to see all things differently. We find ourselves in a place of increasing calm and peace that is not affected by outer circumstances. Hope invites us to drop anchor into the Ground of our Being, our loving God, and to realize that we have always been carried along by this unfathomable Love far beyond our comprehension. Such a realization shifts our focus away from the exterior events of our lives and draws it toward the interior life of our souls, where we encounter the Source of our hoping.
Clearing the way to the soul-centered life is the work of the season of Lent. Hope will bring us to our true home in the midst of joy, sorrow, prosperity or adversity. We can at last find that place deep within each of us where all is One and all is well. The Resurrection Light of Easter invites us to remain in this home to which hope has led us. When we live from that place, anything is possible; miracles happen. Hope continues to remind us that we never walk unaccompanied, and that we are held in God's Love forever. As Jürgen Moltmann says so well in The Source of Life , “It [our true hope] encounters us as the great promise of our life and this world: nothing will be in vain. It will succeed. In the end all will be well!”
"For I know the plans that I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB, Seasons of Your Heart , (New York, N.Y., Harper Collins Pub., 1991)p. 57
Jürgen Moltmann, The Source of Life , (Minneapolis, MN, Fortress Press, 1997) p. 39