Last month I was feeling low about things. A couple of my close friends were either moving out West or talking about maybe having to go. It made me feel quite down on the Island, feeling like whatever we do, won’t be enough. And it’s not just that, it’s also the ‘bad news’ we hear a lot of (genocide, environmental disasters, economic disasters). So how does a person keep going in the face of low feelings, or discouragement?
This can be on a personal level, like just one person feeling low, or it can also apply to a whole community, when that community faces hard times.
So I got curious about various people’s ways of coping with these feelings. I contacted a Facebook friend, Nick Phillips, who is a reverend, a person I haven’t actually met in person but who I’ve connected with online a lot. I asked him to write his thoughts on hope. Here is what he wrote:
When Leah asked me to write something on “hope”, I wasn’t sure where to start. So many things went through my head. I needed more information, direction, context. She gave me some… not too much, so here’s my thoughts…
In my experience of life, few words hold the same emotional power and strength as the word hope.
I suppose love used to, but it’s been watered down at times. I love that show. I love broccoli. I love Pluto.
But hope… hope expresses something meaningful, something beyond our understanding.
Sure there’s things like “I hope I win at ping pong tonight” which can be meaningless. But in an emotional state, in a time of stress, “hope” is a powerful word. In fact few words offer more strength at these times, in my experience.
As clergy, I do a lot of funerals. Some are for people who are connected to my church, but most are people without formal church connections. As with any death, there is a lot of emotion, but there are also a lot of questions about what comes next.
This is where the hope comes in.
Most of us have some sort of belief in something greater than ourselves. For some of us that’s God. A God who has made a promise to never leave nor forsake us.
For others it may be a “power” or “energy” or whatever your belief system may be. It’s natural for us as a people with a limited life span to question our purpose on this spinning rock, and to try and connect with with the larger narrative taking place around us over millions of years. If you think on it too long, you may begin to feel insignificant, or hopeless.
I believe we do have a place in the larger narrative. I believe that what I do in my daily life does have an impact on the world. It may not be today, tomorrow, or even in my lifetime, but I have hope.
Hope in the world being far greater than what we see on the news. Hope in an island that does so much more than just send our young people to other parts of the country. Hope in our communities, our families, our churches and our future as a people.
Because we have a place in the story.
Because we have inherited a promise.
Because we are not alone.
Reverend Nick Phillips blogs over at Maritime Preacher. He lives in Sydney Mines, NS.