As Advent begins, I wonder how Christ can be born again in our time and in our culture. Yet Luke starts his story by noting that Quirinius was governor of Syria, and he made Mary and Joseph go to Bethlehem because Augustus declared a change in the tax plan. They were surrounded by wars and rumors of wars, by a government that had no regard for anyone but the rich and powerful. They were not married, but they were about to be parents. In the midst of all that was wrong with the world, they were called to hope.
Rebecca Solnit says, To hope is to gamble. It’s to bet on the future, on your desires, on the possibility that an open heart and uncertainty is better than gloom and safety. To hope is dangerous, and yet it is the opposite of fear, for to live is to risk. (Hope in the Dark 4)
For years, I have written on this blog trusting that I had a helpful, and perhaps hopeful, word to say. I have not written here in weeks because I have allowed myself to be beaten down the despair disguised as bravado and the cynicism that masquerades as certainty. The vicious volume on most any media, coupled with another difficult round with my depression have kept me quiet. In the silence, I have worked hard to listen better and I have learned that I don’t have to weigh in on everything. I probably could stand to find a balance, though, because I want to be better at hoping, at living with an open heart and uncertainty.
Hoping is not wishing. Hoping is not believing. Hope put Mary and Joseph on the road, set the shepherds running into town, and made John the Baptist call out the proud and powerful. I hear hope these days in the voices of William Barber, Colin Kaepernick, Anne Lamott, John Pavlovitz, Timothy Tyson, Jimmy Santiago Baca, and Naomi Shihab Nye—people who keep calling us to an open heart and uncertainty. My list is not exhaustive. Neither is it political. I do not hear hope from our elected officials. I hear gloom and safety.
This morning, we lit the candle of hope. This week, I will meet you here each day to offer all the hope I can find. It’s dark, I know. But did you see that moon?