You have the power to say, “This is not how my story will end!” You have the power to write a new chapter to your book. You have all the power, so they say. So how do you choose hope? How do you find a reason to smile when the darkness seems endless and the circle of pain is relentless?
Next month I leave to spend a week living in a high trauma orphanage in Mexico with the mission to photograph hope. I’m afraid friends. Really afraid. How do I find hope in the hopeless? Can I manifest hope? Will I do justice to the stories of these wounded children? Can these children return to love after trafficking, abuse, near death, total abandonment?
And so I sit here trying to understand hope on my own behalf, that of the children, and I suppose for you friend since we are all on this journey together. Here are my thoughts about hope….
Hope, like faith and trust and love, is an intangible grasping for the core of being human. Hope is the essence of the human condition and with out that spark, life grows dim and eventually causes failure to flourish. As humans, here and now, we are on this earthly playing field to feel allllllll the feels, experience as much as possible, and digest the wickedly beautiful range of emotions. Earth is a lovely collision at the intersection of brutal and beautiful. Earth is brutiful. Meandering about on thousands of adventures, we do “life” the very best we can, fumbling along, grasping for meaning, continually wavering in our dance with hope.
Hope is a three part recipe that requires the most immense leaning into humanism. Hope is believing in yourself, understanding purpose, and embracing the beyond.
Firstly, you must believe in yourself. No really, you must. Self-doubt will hold you captive and freeze your progress. You have done hard things and made it through; you will do harder things and make it through. A quote I often return to is, “I have woven a parachute out of everything broken.” Do not let the past push you down, rather weave the challenges of yesterday into a something that gives you strength in the understanding that you survived and allow that to propel you to the next daunting adventure. You shall overcome. You will. Truly. You were literally built to survive and thrive. You are indeed stronger than you think.
Second, you have to understand purpose. We are here to love and be loved. Unshucked from romanticism, it means that our purpose on earth is to do our best to be free from causing harm to others and hope that no one does harm to us. And isn’t it amazing how hard this is to do. The truth that is in EVERY religion, every dang one, has some version of The Golden Rule. And yet, as humans doing unto others as you would have them do unto you seems globally impossible. If we are to believe in hope then we need to believe in ourselves and we need to embrace that there is a purpose to all of this. That it is worth it even if our purpose is just to hunt for purpose. Because in the hunting for purpose we may find the meaning in our life. The meaning of life is to truly uncover what your gift is and then the purpose of life is to give your gift away to others. That is love and that is hope! Hope that we are here for a reason and the reason is a glorious web of giving and receiving love, The Golden Rule.
Third, hope is based in something beyond you. Perhaps it is a trust in others or a trust in something higher. It has been said that all a human needs to be truly happy is someone to love and something to do. I believe this to be true because of my understanding that love lives outside us. Nothing on this earth lasts forever. Love lives in hope. We must learn to lean into that which we will never see and that which we will never touch. We have been gifted blessings and truths from those before. We have hope that they have laid the best foundation for us that they knew how.. and we must have hope that we too will do the best for those that follow us. The old Greek Proverb says “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” The hug of connected hope is an unbreakable continuum that began before you can imagine and will continue into places we cannot comprehend. You are cared for and you are loved by those who came before you and consequently if you are still, you can feel the leaning into the glow of the future’s need of you. We are all connected. You came from the source and will return there, just as we all will. You being connected to something beyond you and that is something not in your control and more importantly it is something you don’t need to work for. You have been born into the tapestry of us all and your thread runs strong and true and weaves into an unimaginable beyond. Trust this. There is hope there.
Hope runs in you and through you. You can not separate from hope. You are made from hope. You are the seed of hope. To find hope on the darkest days, one must find a belief in yourself, understand that you have a purpose, and that there so much more than you.
Lean into hope. And if you cannot dear friend, and you lose your hope, know the connectedness of us all will shine brightly like stars on the darkest night, lighting our way, and we will take turns carrying each other all the way home. With love in my heart and hope in humanity, I will take you with me on this journey to Mexico, knowing that together we are stronger and the pain of life is relentless and when you cannot find your smile…I will always give you mine. Amen.