Thursday, March 10, 2011

Where do I find hope?

I wrote this in 2010 for the Tidal Basin blog, thanks to Joseph Ross, and I wanted to look back at it for another piece that I'm writing, so I thought I'd repost, with all gratitude to Joe for eliciting it.

On Hope

Where do I find hope? My father is wont to quote endlessly Khalil Gibran, his family’s kinsman: “your children are not your children. They are life’s longing for itself.” In my own children, in their shining eyes and longing selves bounding into this world; in the work of poets and activists and workers who toil in darkness, in obscurity, in the pity or judgment of others; in the cycles of death and rebirth in the seasons; I see glimmers of a kind of vital perpetuity that all my apocalyptic nightmares, all of my pessimism about the human soul, all of my darkness and pain, cannot overwhelm.

I recently came across an old favorite quote of mine, a vision of George Fox, who founded the Quakers: “I saw also that there was an ocean of darkness and death, but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness.” I am sometimes one who senses that second ocean flowing over the darker one–the one of pain, of loneliness, of lacklove–one “who against hope believed in hope,” as St. Paul writes in his letter to the Romans.

For me, hope is different than optimism, or a belief in progress; it is a cast of soul, against or with the throw of the dice of chance, to persist in its own making. Keats once called this world a “Vale of Soul-Making,” by which he may have meant: life is going to kick our ass, but in the process, if we work at it, our souls will be born and borne into a new reality.

1 comment:

Terry Provost said...

Pessimism of the intellect. Optimism of the will. Gramsci