It’s a gray, dreary day; rain has been pouring down incessantly since early this morning. The kind of day one can get all too caught up in the likelihood of global warfare, the destruction of the Earth’s resilience, and the amount of oppression and bigotry in the world. As well as any private woes.
The little word – hope – pops up a lot in my conversations with friends these days. I suspect because there is so much despair surrounding us. How can we have hope when things seem bleaker than ever before?
I realized recently that I blogged about this at least three years ago (Despair) and not much has changed since then. But it is a theme worth coming back to. We desperately need hope to stay sane in a crazy world. We don’t need blind, uninformed optimism; we need conscious hope, hope that plants the seeds of renewal.
Mulling this over, I realized that the word hope would be devoid of meaning if there was no despair, illness, war, destruction, fear, or sorrow. I suppose this is the true relevance of the Greek myth of Pandora’s Box. Being a curious woman, she desires to know what the father-figure of Zeus has declared off-limits (doesn’t this remind you of another – Judeo-Christian – myth?). She opens the box and unleashes sorrow, death, and other disasters into the world. And, at the bottom of the box is that tiny “thing with feathers” (Emily Dickinson) that flutters up like an iridescent butterfly.
It isn’t as though the world was free of worry until Pandora opened the box (or Eve picked the apple). Curiosity leads to knowledge, to our eyes being opened to the dual character of existence: good and bad, day and night. It also opens our eyes to hope. It’s there if we are willing to see it.
Only with hope can we find the energy to fight for the things we believe in.
“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.”
Emily Dickinson, 1891