Hope Alone

I guess I thought I’d always find it.

“It” being the thing I’m looking for as the protagonist in my own life movie.   What I want as I open the packages of the day: graduation, marriage, children, career.   In the classic, proto-typical story, the hero overcomes the obstacles and at great cost wins the day, receiving for all this trouble…what?  A sense of satisfaction?  A final, thirst-destroying drink of soul-water? A moment that is the moment of all moments, wherein the soul sits back and sighs a sigh that is all rest, all completeness, everlasting…what?

Buechner’s reading this morning reminded me that it’s not coming.  There will be shades of it in the small victories of the day, the glories that come just because I open my eyes to the morning.  The sun comes up at 5:00 or so, and I’m awake, listening the birds, wondering what the crows are upset about.  Anjie’s dead to the world for another hour or so, and I pad into the office to see if any divinity’s lurking about to get me through the day.

This morning, I’m out of coffee.  Divinity’s still an open question.

I’m going to write today.  To what end?  If I complete the screenplay of Leaving Ruin and by some miracle it was made into a film, what then?  Would I think I’d fulfilled the promise, the hope of youth?  Would I think I’d finally taken my talents and dealt them in the marketplace so that the hard master that reaps what he does not sew would think I’d done okay?  Or maybe if I write some book or some play that wins a prize or makes a ton of money, or maybe if my kids could turn to their friends and say, “My Dad is a prize-winner and rich…I’m so proud.”

Buechner simply reminded me of the embarrassment of having to face the fact that I need to be saved.  Saved.   Of course, Buechner is saying we all need it, and that it embarrasses each of us, because in the end, we know that we can’t make it on our own.  We don’t even really know what “make it” means, except that inside our hearts is that vague country, that distant country C.S. Lewis had the gall to remind us of.   We all have this hope inside us, that one day we will find…ah, how to name the destination, the “it” we long and ache and live and die for.

So hope.  Funny thing though…hope achieved isn’t hope any more.  And no matter what I’ve done in my life, hope remains.  It’s one way to look at frustration, I suppose.  “Nothing can take my hope away,” someone says.  Well, nothing except the achievement of that which you hope for.  But then, you’d have to give up the hope.   And how would you live?

Hope is the fuel, and I suppose I’ll keep living right up to the day my hope runs out.  The faith is that in that moment of empty, Jesus will save me.  That hope will be answered in some fashion that just isn’t possible over here.  Hope is the journey, and we are companions, aren’t we, nudging each other along, asking how’s the hope going today?  Mine’s a little busted up, but still, it’s there, and just between you and me, I’ve taken some of the shine off of it, and guess what?  I like it better this way, just the raw stuff, the stuff that isn’t really pretty or prize-winning.  One thing I know, though, my hope won’t leave me, won’t abandon me when the chips are down, and they get pretty down sometimes.

Maybe life is as simple as hunger and thirst.  Jesus said we’d be filled.

I hope so.

2 Comments

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  1. A thought tangential to your core point, but your “life movie” analogy reminded me of another theatrical analogy developed one summer in Abilene (with your help). That we always want to assume we are the main character in every plot. But that sometimes what is a seamingly major life event to us is only an incidental scene in the perhaps much more major life event in someone else’s plot.

    In the end, there is a master screen writer who is in control. While I will certainly not understand all that happens, I am comforted.

    I need to play every part with passion and meaning, no matter how major or minor …

  2. As an old pessimist, the thought which occurred to me while reading your post was: what is it like to have no hope at all? Having never experienced that particular sentiment, even in the deepest of depressions (or what passes for depression in my overly-blessed state), it piques my morbid curiosity, especially in light of the many books, poems, plays, movies, etc., containing characters (seemingly) without hope. My expectations of life are often bleak (the glass is neither half-full nor half-empty, its contents are merely laced with deadly bacteria), yet because there is the belief in God which has been a part of my life since infancy, there has never been a time when hope was gone. In fact, my internal philosophy has always been: Come rain or shine, feast or famine, I will not despair, for who knows what might happen tomorrow? I can’t wait to find out!

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