Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Creative Work of Hope

Mechanitis butterfly chrysalis
(no attribution that I can find on the internet...)

Hope is a word that has been floating around on the surface of my awareness lately. Here are some of my encounters with the word:

"Hope is not an emotion, but hope is a cognitive, behavioral process that we learn when we experience adversity, when we have relationships that are trustworthy, when people have faith in our ability to get out of a jam." (Brené Brown on the work of C. R. Snyder, in her interview with Krista Tippet)

"I do like that . . . idea of hope as a function of struggle. It's almost like, you know, it would be counterintuitive, counterculturally, to say we need to struggle with this honestly, vulnerability, to cultivate the hope that we need to figure out what's next." (Krista Tippet in her interview with BrenĂ© Brown)

"There was a theologian from the mid-1900s who kind of described hope as an attitude toward the future that we cannot see, but we trust that somehow it's held by God and that there are possibilities beyond what we can even imagine." (Father Mike Surufka in his interview on Losing Our Religion)

Hope used to mean something escapist and fantastical to me, but lately I've been seeing it more as hard work, as practice in walking the invisible path. Hope has become a constructive enterprise that calls for creativity—anticipating future possibilities with the attitude of an artist who has seen the final creation in her head—as well as vulnerability—accepting the possibility of hope unfulfilled. Hope, these days any way, is a truly brave act.

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