is the belief
that one hand
reaching to another
touch the moon,
allowing the light
to guide us
through the night.
by Nicholas Mazza
In this week before COP26 starts, I found myself reflecting on hope, where to find it when it feels illusive, and on the role it plays in my life. Clearly I have a preference for feeling hopeful rather than hopeless, but there’s something tricky in its seeming relationship with what I may or may not feel hopeful about. How much are my feelings based on reality, and can I (or anyone else) even really know what the reality of the the future will be? So I wonder about its tendency to take me out of what’s actually happening now and into the virtual reality of my imagination, especially where it may stop me from acting in a way that may be helpful to bring about what I hope for. I appreciated Joanna Macy’s reflections on hope in a recently released video of her speaking about the climate crisis as a spiritual practice. She said:
“Hope and hopelessness, they’re just feelings. They arise and pass. Sometimes I feel hopeful. Sometimes I feel helpless. Sometimes it has to do with what I had for breakfast or what somebody just said to me.
So the greatest gift we can give our world is our full presence and our choice moment by moment to be present, to stay open. And when you’re in the middle of a big adventure, you don’t have time to decide whether you’re hopeful or hopeless. David going out with his slingshot… Say, “Excuse me, Are you feeling hopeful?” Or, “Excuse me, Frodo and Sam, how hopeful do you feel today?” We just got a job to do. Don’t waste my time. That question can bring you out of the present moment. It can throw you into imaginings and conjectures when all your energy should be right here in the moment.”
Also, I found myself touched by Nicholas Mazza’s short poem above. As a professor in Social Work he has written much about the healing power of poetry, including a book on Poetry Therapy. And what could be more hopeful than the power of people working together to reach a common goal… May we learn to live together in a way that allows all of us to flourish, on a flourishing planet!
PS if you would like to explore the practice of Active Hope in relation to love of and care for the world we live in, you may want to join the weekend workshop Engaged Mindfulness this summer…