When I speak is hope enhanced, love confirmed, faith sustained?
So what about hope? Do my words encourage hearts and lift up heads and strengthen feeble knees?
Or, by something I say, casually or thoughtfully, is love kept faithful, set free and made more real?
And faith? Do words and sentences, comments and conversations, greetings and silent gestures, invite faith, instil trust, affirm worth?
But let's begin with hope. If ever the Christian witness needed to repristinate a word that has become obscured and vague; if ever a word was slipping towards the margins of our living like an almost lost memory; if ever a word was under siege from its opposites, pressured to the edges of personal experience and political priority, that word is hope.
No that isn't a counsel of despair, nor a surrender to the dark side. It is a recalling of Christian obedience to a faith where the deep seeds of hope are embedded in Calvary, that deep red soil where they propagate and rise in the flowers and fruits of Resurrection. Resurrection hopefulness is our most powerful, sustainable energy source; and if so it should be evident in the way we look at the world and talk about it. The blazing radiance of resurrection should illuminate our words. So as a Lenten corrective to much that we feel and think and therefore say, here are two helpful voices:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15.13)
Try memorising that, and saying it before you open the office door of a colleague and waste their day, or when sitting in the hardly moving traffic queue fuming at all this precious time in your life that is so frustratingly unproductive, or when life comes tumbling or rumbling towards us with the promise of yet more hassle.
The antidote to which might be this poem by Denise Levertov, who knows the resurrection power of words, kindly spoken, courageously proclaimed, firmly stated, angrily shouted, gently whispered, hilariously shared, and as couriers of hope.
New Year Poem. 1981
I have a small grain of hope—
one small crystal that gleams
clear colors out of transparency.
I need more.
I break off a fragment
to send you.
this grain of a grain of hope
so that mine won’t shrink.
Please share your fragment
so that yours will grow.
Only so, by division,
will hope increase,
like a clump of irises, which will cease to flower
unless you distribute
the clustered roots, unlikely source—
clumsy and earth-covered—
Last summer, one of our roses (photo above) produced this Trinitarian reminder. For this and the next two posts it will be a reminder of the three cardonal virtues of Faith and Hope and Love.