Hope For The Future

Now Then

Better Worse

Comparisons pop up.

The pandemic — the risks — the vaccines — the look to the future, community health, personal health, and many others.

Cautious hope based on facts and science, are emerging like daffodils in spring and greening of trees.

On the COVID front, one article provides one timeline for the future.

https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2021/02/pandemic-daily-life-normal-summer-fall/618108/

Cautious hope — on my personal front.

Cause for a cautious hope after a six month visit/evaluation with my pulmonologist— lung capacity better than last year — an slightly animated YES while keeping faithful to the pulmonologists’s orders.

This hope rests on facts and the interpretation of data.

Other hope(s)?

Multiple uses of a word manifests that the word is important. Hope is such a word in the Bible where, according to diverse sources, “hope” appears 131 times.

In English, hope is a somewhat abstract idea of expectation.

In Hebrew (tikvah), however, is more concrete, meaning expectation, cord or rope, coming from a root word that means to bind or to wait for or upon.

Expectation based upon what in the case of science.

Expectation based on Whom in our faith life.

https://www.logosapostolic.org/hebrew-word-studies/8615-tiqvah-hope.htm

Science’s hope  emanates interpreted facts.

Faith-based hopes comes from the experience of a living God.

Hope flourished in two unlikely books of the Bible — Job and Lamentations.

Job had no scientific data to hold onto to for a hopeful future — yet his future became better than his past.

The  word “lamentation” cries out from pain and death — much like our world and our country with over 500,000 deaths!

YET the following comes from the Book of Lamentations:

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” (Lamentations 3.20_26)

The writer, the community, I, and many others feel and embrace hope because of the great love we have seen and felt in our lives — the Great Whom — I am who I am!

Look to the Son.

Watch Out For

“Watch where you walk!”

This common statement/command/admonishment/wisdom says much in four words!

This popped up earlier today as I gingerly tiptoed down an icy driveway to get my second COVID shot.

Years ago our black Lab reminded me of this on our morning walk along a trail, across which geese had trod and left reminders of their presence.

Zoe, the black Lab, led me down a another path, while I absentmindedly was not watching where I was walking.

Paul wrote in a letter  to his community in Ephesus (5.15) “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise.”

I acted wisely this morning.

Because of canine wisdom I acted wisely.

Did Paul have a black Lab or walked with ice on the road?

“Lord, may we walk and act wisely.

May we learn from all your creatures the ways of wisdom”

Work Of Art

Works of art mesmerize, capture, draw out words and feelings of awe, appreciation, and so much more.

A masterpiece.

The beauty of the Pieta, Monet and Matisse, the wonder of a fine piece of furniture — to mention just a few.

The finished product radiates.

However, the process leading to the final product takes time, talent, patience, and perseverance.

Michelangelo labored over a slab of marble for two years to finish the Pieta.

The wisdom of later life stands on the growth and pain and molding of many years.

Who would not want to be the sculptor who chiseled the Pieta?

Who would not want to be the carpenter who made a fine piece of furniture?

But how about being the piece of marble which needs to be chiseled?

But how about being the wood which needs to be cut and sanded?

People in our life can be the sandpaper which refines us, when and if we are patient.

People in our life can be the sculptor who chisel us and take away the rough edges, turning us into works or art!

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2.10 NLT

Forward To Hope

This day happens once a year.

While anniversary, birthday, or something similar may come to mind, today is not another Wednesday, it is Ash Wednesday.

Ashes on foreheads!

“Remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return” accompanies the action of ashes being put on the forehead.

While this sounds ominous and chilling, this reminder of our mortality, the fragility of life starts Lent.

When viewed through another lens, our sight offers us an insight and path to hope.

One religious leader expressed this path to hope in the following way: “We’ve had a lot of deprivation. We’ve had a lot of folks losing jobs, everyone’s time getting stretched, people having gotten more responsibilities within their families, relationships going through a lot of big transitions. What I’m trying to focus on is the idea of Lent as a season of preparation to celebrate and Lent as a time to really prepare for that hope that is coming.”

(Rev. Tiffania Icaza Willets, Seminole Heights United Methodist Church)

A hope that is coming, something to look forward to.

What can we look forward to: vaccination shot, spending physical face to face time with those we love, Easter or…?

YET

What do I, you, and all of us in this time of preparation for the hope that IS coming?

I’m Lost

We have often gotten lost.

Sometimes we admit, sometimes we don’t.

I can remember once when I was driving from Chicago to St. Cloud Minnesota — I had never heard of it — have you?

In the era — seems centuries ago — we navigated by using MAPS — paper maps.

Part of the joy of being a kid was listening to the dialogue (much too polite a word) of the interplay between my dad (the driver) and my mom (the map reader and navigator.)

But I was by myself, trying to read and follow a map (about the size of a table cloth for a 12 person table).

I got lost!

We all get lost, lose our bearings.

The following account/prayer comes from a person whom I greatly admire: Thomas Merton.

My Lord God,

I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

If you feel alone and lost, please consider praying it.

Yet To Come

In a time when we focus on the new, the present, sometimes the long view may be the wise view.

The “yet to come” view is well expressed in the following.

Dear Ann Landers:

Dear Kay:

Several readers, as well as some family members, sent me this same piece. Some said they got it off the Internet. It has been attributed to Roger William Thomas.

It is indeed a heart-warmer, and I am printing it with pleasure: Keep Your Fork

A woman was diagnosed with a terminal illness and given three months to live. She asked her pastor to come to her home to discuss her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at her funeral, and what scriptures to read, and which outfit she wanted to be buried in.

Then she said, “One more thing. I want to be buried with a fork in my hand.”

The pastor was surprised. The woman explained, “In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, `Keep your fork.’ It was my favorite time, because I knew something better was coming, like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie — something wonderful. So, I want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and wonder, ‘What’s with the fork?’ Then, I want you to tell them, `Keep your fork, because the best is yet to come.”‘

The pastor’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he bid the woman goodbye. He realized that she had a better grasp of heaven than he did and knew something better was coming.

At the funeral, when people asked him why she was holding a fork, the pastor told them of the conversation he’d had with the woman before she died. He said he could not stop thinking about the fork and knew they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it, either. He was right.

Keep your fork. The best is yet to come

August 12th, 2000

Keep your fork. The best is yet to come

Winter Growth and Warmth

In the cold

It’s hard to be bold

Or so I’m told.

AND YET

Some persons have written:

“Winter forms our character and brings out our best.” –Tom Allen

“Winter is a season of recovery and preparation.” –Paul Theroux

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”” –Edith Sitwell

“The hard soil and four months of snow make the inhabitants of the northern temperate zone wiser and abler than his fellow who enjoys the fixed smile of the tropics. ” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.” –Pietro Aretino

And here I write

In a winter cold

With the temperature outside

12%

Why?

Why not?

For in the cold

I remember the parts of life

That are warm

The hand of a loved one

The taste of

Homemade soup

Homemade bread

Cuddling in a warm comforter

Watching a favorite.

I feel

I sense

The warmth

Because I am loved

By the people in my life

By God!

Desert Into Garden

The wisdom of Henri Nouwen lasts and lingers in the lives and souls of many throughout the decades.

In the selection below he writes about transforming the desert of loneliness into the garden of life.

To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of our loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude.

This requires not only courage but also a strong faith.

As hard as it is to believe that the dry desolate desert can yield endless varieties of flowers, it is equally hard to imagine that our loneliness is hiding unknown beauty.

The movement from loneliness to solitude, however, is the beginning of any spiritual life because it is a movement from the restless senses to the restful spirit, from the outward-reaching cravings to the inward-reaching search, from the fearful clinging to the fearless play.”

March 20, 2021

Hmm?

That date strikes a chord in my soul which sings “Alleluia!”

The quotes below from various sources announce and broadcast “SPRING!”

“Early spring is the time for vigorous change ….” — Henry Rollins

“I enjoy the spring more than the autumn now. One does, I think, as one gets older.” — Virginia Woolf

“Spring is nature‘s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’” — Robin Williams

“Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.” — Virgil A. Kraft

The Song of Songs (2:11-13) proclaims the following:

See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me!