I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.
from Psalm 130
In this first week of Advent as we focus on the theme of Hope, I wonder what hope means for you? Is hope like making a wish on an evening star or a wish before blowing out candles on a birthday cake? Is it being an “upbeat” person — always looking for a silver lining — believing the best will happen? Or could it be the same as grace – or faith?
In her book Mystical Hope, Cynthia Bourgeault writes that the “journey to hope… is something that will change your innermost way of seeing.” She continues, “In our usual way of looking at things, hope is tied to outcome. We normally think of hope as having an optimistic feeling.”
Instead, Bourgeault believes that “hope has something to do with presence — not a future good outcome but the immediate experience of being met, held in communion, by something intimately at hand.”
I am drawn to contemplate hope like Bourgeault, as “an abiding state of being… a call to become a vessel, to become a chalice into which divine energy can pour; a lamp through which it can shine.”
Our practice of waiting in Advent is very close to this “abiding state of being” as we wait for the coming light, even when days are short, dark, and cold. We might consider how Mary’s abiding hope helped her receive the promise of the Holy One within her: how she became a “vessel, a chalice, a lamp.”
How might you embrace Hope this Advent season? How might you hold the promise of the coming Christ within you this Advent season?
As we consider becoming people of Hope, here are a few of my favorite quotes on hope:
I heard a preacher say that hope is a revolutionary practice . . . hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up. . .
~ Anne Lamott
Hope is what sits by a window and waits for one more dawn, despite the fact that there is not one ounce of proof in tonight’s black, black sky that it can possibly come.
~ by Joan Chittister
Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Either we have hope within or we don’t; it is a dimension of the soul not essentially dependent on some particular observation of the world or estimate of the situation. It is an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons.
~ Vaclav Havel in “Share International” #3, Vol. 25
For me, at Advent, my hope is in God who wants to be with us — Emmanuel. Enough to become incarnate, to take on flesh, to be born in humble circumstance. To be one of us, one with us. We keep vigil – a patient waiting – for the completion of our deepest desire rooted in God’s desire. We practice hope in our every day lives, moment by moment. We share hope with others. We wait together for the light to come.
The hope is for fullness, for completion,
for being one with each other . . .
Our entire lives are a vigil, a keeping watch,
for the fulfillment of this hope.
~ Wendy Wright
“Waiting in Silence (Waiting in Hope)” by Carey Landry