Prisoner of Hope

       I woke up this morning humming “Whispering Hope”.  Where the quaint old song came from in the storage bin of my memory is anybody’s guess, but, there it was working its way to the surface of my consciousness as I opened my eyes.  Its presence in my mind surprised me. 

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       I’d gone to sleep somewhat discouraged with myself and by the expectations of others, certainly not the psychological breeding ground where one would expect to find hope.  And the old song itself had always seemed rather bland and shallow to me as a maturing, young questor.  Not enough edge to it, I thought, not enough content.  I’ve spent today revisiting those old lyrics and repenting for the hasty judgment of my youth, and my lack of attention to what I now realize is a profound and life-sustaining truth. 

            Soft as the voice of an angel whispers a lesson unheard,
            Hope with a gentle persuasion whispers her comforting word. 

            Wait till the darkness is over; wait till the tempest has past. 
            Hope for the sunrise tomorrow, after the shower has past. 
            Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice,
            Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice. 

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       A few years ago my friend Peggy lost her 34 year-old son, a tall, handsome, funny, strong, outdoorsy young man, who was about to turn out.  No one quite knows what happened, but, what began as a hiking expedition into one of his favorite places in the hills of Tennessee turned into the nightmare of a forest ranger on Peggy’s front porch with the news that Tom’s body had been found at the bottom of a slippery cliff. 

       Bill and I have a strong, funny, grown son who is as dear to me as Tom was to Peggy.  I try to imagine how Peggy could have ever climbed through the despair of such an unfathomable loss.  I’m not sure I could.  All the kind words, sympathetic letters, arms around the shoulders, assurances of continued prayer, admonitions to trust it all to God, all the good advice in the world would not make it possible to crawl out of bed another morning and face another day full of other people’s children and other families’ joy.  Yet over these years since I first heard the song I woke up singing this morning, I have seen the amazing power of the hope that is within us.  I saw it in Peggy, and I am coming to know that some of the most quiet, unassuming truths are the most life changing and the most healing. 

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       I am learning that things like hope are not to be conjured up by our will and grit.  No, hope, like faith, and love, and patience, and forgiveness are gifts from God.  As trite as this may sound, it’s more like waking up in the morning to the sound of hope whispering in your ear.  “Come with me, you can go on.”  Hope is a vision, a dream, an inspiration that is projected on the screens of our souls from somewhere else.  Hope – the fragile, gentle, whispering, tough, enduring, awesome stuff dreams are made of – is the gift of God to every fainting heart. 

       “Return to your fortress, oh prisoners of hope.” (Zechariah 9:12)

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