Monday, September 04, 2006


I have to admit, some days the title virtue is in short supply in my life, especially where the world is concerned, and my son. I think there is a famous quote that says, "Where there is life, there is hope", but I'm not sure. I would take that to mean, as long as we are not six feet under, we have the opportunity to see or create a better world. Don't get me wrong-I know good things have happened in my life, in my son's life and in the world at large. Lots of good things. The book of Proverbs says that hope deferred makes the heart sick. Hope can be connected to outward changes, perceived good happening, or an inner change of heart. But without it life is very hard indeed.

I was reminded about hope in an unusual way last week. As I said earlier, I have gotten two letters from inmates, my son and another man I am writing to, the past few weeks that letters have arrived. I'm grateful for both, and I honestly don't expect anything other than the news in them. I don't even expect answers to questions I may have asked, particularly from my son. His letters are just what they are, and I don't look to see huge changes with each one that comes. That's fine. What I did not expect and I have gotten from the letters of the other man I write to is much encouragement about my son. It's as though, every time I read my son's letter and then the other letter, I'm able to put the first into a completely different context, and I'm ashamed that it has taken someone else behind bars to help me see this. This man's genuine interest alone brings me hope, because sometimes the whole situation feels like a ball and chain on my ankle, anchoring me to a spot as if in suspended animation, instead of believing for the future. Another person's concern at least lifts the weight for a time.

The scriptures also make a connection between faith, hope and love. They are the premiere virtues Christians are to develop and exercise. Faith is defined as the evidence of unseen things, and I would say that is the first requisite to having hope. Hope comes as a result of seeing what will be, not what is. One day my son will be free. I have to see that freedom as a new lease on life and a new start. I have to believe that this experience will not leave him unchanged. It has not left me unchanged. My awareness of people in tough situations is greater, compassion more, and my life changed by the people who have come into it as a result of all this, like my young friend who writes. Love excites faith and hope, and the three move in a circle of continuing growth if we let them. I think everyone is secretly afraid of having their fondest hopes dashed, but the thing about hope is it is not in limited supply if we believe.


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