HOPE IS A CHOICE…PART 3
The only difference between hope and despair is that despair shapes an attitude of mind. Hope creates a quality of soul. The Irish love to tell the story of Paddy McGarrity, who spent his life bemoaning all the circumstances of his life. Nothing satisfied him. But one particularly gracious summer day the sun burst out through the fog and rain of the country and spread over the Irish hills in a blaze of glory. Surely even Paddy would see the beauty of life in this! “Ho, Paddy,” the parish priest called to him over the fence. “Isn’t it a beauti-ful day!” “Ah, sure, Father,” Paddy moaned, “but will it last?”
Despair colors the way we look at things, makes us suspicious of the future, makes us negative about the present. Most of all, despair leads us to ignore the very possibilities that could save us, or worse, leads us to want to hurt as we have been hurt ourselves.
Hope, on the other hand, takes life on its own terms, knows that whatever happens God lives in it, and expects that, whatever its twists and turns, it will ultimately yield its good to those who live it consciously, to those who live it to the hilt.
When tragedy strikes, when trouble comes, when life disappoints us, we stand at the crossroads between hope and despair, torn and hurting. Despair cements us in the present. Hope sends us dancing around dark corners trusting in a tomorrow we cannot see because of the multiple pasts of life which we cannot forget. Despair says that there is no place to go but here.
When I say that I am in despair, I am really saying that I have given up on God. Despair says that I am God and if I can’t do anything about this situation, then nothing and nobody can.
Despair is the affliction of the small-minded who have not so much lost their faith as they have lost their memory. Hope says, remember where you have been before and know that God is waiting for you someplace else now, to go on again to something new.
Life is not one road. It is many roads, the walking of which provides the raw material outofwhich we find hope in the midst of despair.
Every dimension of the process of struggle is a call to draw from a well of new understandings. It is in these understandings that hope dwells. It is that wisdom that carries us beyond the dark night of struggle to the dawn of new wisdom and new strength.