With all the natural disasters we’ve seen in 2017, I’m re-thinking the topic of hope.
Not that I have abandoned its importance, but rather thinking how it presents itself and how we react to it.
All this reflection has led me to believe hope exists in layers.
Layer One: The everyday expression of hope.
We use the word “hope” glibly even as we bless each other with its presence.
“Hope you have a good day.”
“Hope your hamburger is well done.”
“Hope you enjoy this fall season.”
Layer One of Hope is important because it places a positive spin on our lives. The word is easy to say, even easier to share as we convey a genuine forward-looking attitude.
None of us can live without some sliver of hope.
Layer Two: The hope shared during crises.
This is the layer so evident in 2017’s chaotic year of disasters. With every hurricane, fire and earthquake – people somehow summon a measure of hope.
“We will rebuild!” they promise as their fortitude spreads across the world.
People volunteer to help them clean up the sludge left from perpetual rains. Organizations ask for donations, and those with giving hearts willingly comply. The nightly news includes a section for inspiring America where we weep with those who weep yet rejoice with those who smile through their tears.
This layer requires a sinew of courage we all hope to possess and exhibit when it’s our turn to suffer.
In the sharing of Layer Two, we relish the pride of coming together, of connecting for the greater good, of forgetting for a moment our petty differences.
We discover in Layer Two what is truly important.
Layer Three: The darkest, longest road to recovery.
When we reach this layer, we discover our inner core. This type of hope transcends the others because it has to duplicate itself every day. Somehow, this hope digs past the detritus of chaos.
The journey to Layer Three screams at the unfairness of death yet pushes past the grief because life is too precious to abandon.
These are the volunteers who ignore soul-weary fatigue as they prepare another 458 meals in Houston, then serve with a smile.
These are the firefighters, grimy from hours in sooty ash, who find the gumption to return to the flames and fight again.
These are the workers, sometimes using their hands, who remove piles of rubble. They carefully place stone upon stone because they believe a child might still be alive and the slightest mistake will delete all hope.
Only the bravest survive in Layer Three and from them – we never hear the monotone of complaint.
They continue to hope although they have no water, no shelter and no clothing. Their lives have been destroyed, yet hope keeps their hearts beating. They long to hear from a loved one when all the cell towers are down and communications cut off. They continue to believe and trust in hope.
These Layer Three folks are the families who take in strangers, because it’s the right thing to do.
This is the businessman who opens his store because he has mattresses available for bone-weary National Guardsmen and homeless wanderers.
This is the Red Cross receptionist who answers thousands of calls with a sweet voice.
Hope is alive but presents itself in various ways – depending on the layer we live through and our reaction to it.
I’m striving for Layer Three even as I pray the need for it will not come to my community. But if it does, may we all be strong enough to persevere – then emerge victorious on the other side.
©2017 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved