Hope is a Spiritual Practice

Hope, like every virtue, is a choice
that becomes a practice
that becomes a spiritual muscle memory.
It is a renewable resource for moving through life as it is,
not as we wish it to be.
—from “Becoming Wise” by Krista Tippett

All it would take is one quick look around to start feeling completely hopeless. Crime, pollution, political corruption, poverty, hunger, physical violence, sexual violence, emotional violence, gun violence, psychological violence, spiritual violence, racism, natural disasters, un/der employment, floundering schools, homophobia, chronic illness, paralyzing loss, crumbled dreams. . . . It really wouldn’t take a lot to focus (what’s left of) our attention on these vast sources of hopelessness. In fact, I know plenty of people who do just that. I see Facebook pages devoted almost entirely to reasons to be hopeless . . . about our government, our environment, the spiritual state of affairs of our world. Just a glance, and I feel instantly weary (as if I weren’t already. . . . So what am I doing on Facebook?!).

But, just as I don’t want to board the hopelessness train, neither do I want to ignore reality and drift through my days in the rosy carriage of privilege and denial. I want to approach life with the kind of spiritual maturity that acknowledges the realities of how things are but does not acquiesce into absolute despair. I want to manifest the kind of hope that Krista Tippett describes in the quotation above—where hope is really a spiritual practice—as important as any other. This allows me to recognize situations for what they are, but does not require that I succumb to the devastations those situations may carry. I have (ok, I work to develop) the power—in the form of spiritual muscle memory—to get on the spiritual bicycle I may not have ridden in ages and move in a different direction.

So, as I look around, yes, I see significant challenges. But I also see the incredible gifts and commitments of members of this church rising to meet those challenges. I see people working toward and claiming alternative realities. I hear voices speaking out against injustice, and I feel movements preparing to turn the tide toward greater love, generosity, and welcome. In other words, I see reasons to hope.

See you in church,