We are poised and we are waiting.
We are hovering on the edge of what feels like Destiny and Calling and Fate.
We thought we didn’t believe in fate.
It is in the waiting and the hoping that we discover that we are a little superstitious.
I’ve been noticing that about my own heart lately. The theater is full of superstitions: you can’t say the name of the Scottish play (even here, I will not type it); we say ridiculous things like “Break a leg,” or, in opera, “Toi toi toi” -- meant to mimic the sound of spitting over your shoulder three times to ward off bad luck. I knock on wood at basically every given opportunity.
I am afraid of jinxing myself through the simple act of hoping.
I can see that superstition – these little things, these little indicators – they point to my little faith.
They show me that I don’t really believe God.
Because if I did –
Well, then all bets are off.
It is either believe God or nothing, but we do not get to have this in-between land of professing faith and simultaneously throwing salt over our respective shoulders.
He did not leave that option open to us.
We either get to be safe in our land of control or we expose ourselves naked to the elements.
It is cold and we are trembling because we feel that there is nothing to protect us from the swift stroke of the executioner.
What could come along to kill us?
There are arrows all around, and the wolves are out tonight.
This invisible shield that You say protects me – well, it’s invisible.
How do I know?
You see, our superstitions are our ways of guaranteeing that we will not lose control of our situations.
Every time I knock on wood or cross my fingers, I am establishing who is in charge, and it is me.
I want it to be me.
Hope feels too risky. Too much like foolishness.
I keep coming back to Gandalf. There never was much hope -- just a fool's hope.
I'm starting to believe that all hopers are fools.
They are living on nothing but a wing and a prayer and the word of a God we cannot see.
On the way His Spirit talks to ours -- and by the way, no one has ever been able to define this speech.
What does it sound like? What is His tone of voice?
How do we know?
How do we know our hopes will all come true?
If we stand before the elements with nothing but a hope -- well, it feels like not enough.
It feels like at the first snowflake, we will freeze. At the first sign of winter --
How can we possibly stand if we are vulnerable when we are attacked?
We forget that in vulnerability lies our strength.
We forget also that spring, tender in her smallness and her breathing, is the thing that pushes past the hoarfrost and the hardness in the ground and in the earth.
Oh, may I not be like the wintertime.
May I not be frozen and tough and cold to the touch.
May I be the tender buds of spring, unafraid to hope.
I feel like I am on a hope journey.
I have feared hope.
How can I possibly hope in what I cannot control?
And yet, time and again, the Spirit of God says to me, Darling.
Hope again in Me.
And Jesus, You are all my Hope.
As He whispers to my shattered soul, warming His hands and melting me back together, pouring gold into the cracks, He makes hope irresistible to me.
I can't help myself.
Hope is tantalizing, beckoning me over the green hills, calling to me: Come and see.
Come and see what I can do.
And I look around, look at the winter turning over into spring, and I shrug.
Why ever not?
And I start to follow. With a slow, tentative walk at first. Barely daring to put out my hands.
But then, as I pray and hope and wait --
I am rewarded.
I thought it didn't happen this way.
I thought we weren't allowed to get what we hoped for.
Jesus looks at me. He winks.
I love it when people wink at me.
And my pace quickens along with the beating of my heart, which I had thought was long dead.
Look at what I can do.
At this point, Jesus, You're just showing off.
Because suddenly, before I know it, my arms are full of gifts that I never imagined -- but look at me.
Look at what I am holding in my hands.
Suddenly, somehow, some divine and incredible way, all my dreams are coming true.
All my desires have been met.
After the drought there is the rain.
After the ashes there is the sunshine and the phoenix.
After desolation there is hope.
All the time.
The entire time I have been on this hope journey, I have asked myself, What happens if I am disappointed?
A voice inside my head shrugs her figurative, practical shoulders.
You've been disappointed before, she says. You'll live through it.
And then I hear the voice of God, see Him brushing my hair back from my face, and my soul feels Him say to me that even if I am crushed beyond my wildest nightmares, He is with me, and I will be okay.
And to be honest, y'all? Now that I have had a taste of hope, I cannot live without it.
How can I?
Hope is a drug.
It's sweet-smelling and tantalizing, and real hope, hope in Jesus, never, ever disappoints.
It is in our vulnerability that He walks in and makes Himself at home and says to us, with a wink and a twinkle, Watch this.
And if we dare not to turn away -- if we dare, if we dare to believe that He might have something gorgeous hidden in His hands --
Then we are caught, and we are addicted, because when You have hope in the Creator of the Universe, then You never will be crushed.
And I don't really know how that's true.
But I know it is.
I've seen it. I'm living it. The evidence is all over my body.
Hope calls to us.
Let's say yes.
Yes, it's vulnerable. Yes, it feels foolhardy. It feels like if everything goes wrong we might die.
We cannot bear pain like that again.
But when I dare to hope, I am kindly surprised every time. And sometimes I am even overjoyed. Elated.
So for the love of all that's holy, let's say yes.
Because hope is holy. Holy and sacred and joyous and shining with some kind of golden light that we can't define -- but we recognize it all the same.
It's got the same sheen as our souls.