We begin the year with hope. Hope for peace; hope for good health; hope for reconciliation and redemption; hope for progress on our journeys and throughout the world. Emily Dickinson’s poem is a lovely metaphor to return to when drawing on this hope to get us through rough days:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
Hope is active, isn’t it? Sometimes singing, sometimes soaring, sometimes hanging on by its toenails. Faith is different. Mary Oliver describes this difference beautifully in her new book, Upstream:
In the winter I am writing about, there was much darkness. Darkness of nature, darkness of event, darkness of the spirit. The sprawling darkness of not knowing. We speak of the light of reason. I would speak here of the darkness of the world, and the light of _______. But I don’t know what to call it. Maybe hope. Maybe faith, but not a shaped faith–only, say a gesture, or a continuum of gestures. But probably it is closer to hope, that is more active, and far messier than faith must be. Faith, as I imagine it, is tensile, and cool, and has no need of words. Hope, I know is a fighter and a screamer.
As we go forward, let us hope for a better world for every one, but let it be an active hope–a fighting, kicking and screaming hope– a hope that urges us into that battle of making the world the better place.

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