Living Hope took many forms before it became what you see now. In its earliest manifestations, the content was focused on my individual encounter with the world and my evaluation of those experiences. While that might be helpful at the micro level, and even, in some cases, a form of entertainment, how is it helpful at the macro level, to the greater collective?
For months, I toiled at this project by sharing in depth my own personal story of coming to hope through struggle – how I emerged stronger, more spiritually evolved, and more resilient. But it didn’t feel like it had any purpose other than as a kind of selfie to take and share with a voyeuristic audience.
The value of writing down my own experiences was that, in reflecting over the content, I noticed a pattern of steps that continually emerged from each story of struggle. These steps would become the eight Practices of Living Hope: Surrender, Stillness, Grief, Honesty, Curiosity, Forgiveness, Resilience, and Joy. But, I knew that the project wouldn’t take shape with my personal content alone. It felt like I was yelling into the wind.
I have always been a collector of interesting and engaging people. Their own unique experiences, very different from mine, give me insight into broader thoughts and questions I have regarding life’s challenges and the pall that increasingly hangs over us societally. In forming Living Hope, I heard clearly my own calling to speak to people who are losing hope; but I was lost as to what form it should take. During this time, I was being moved by others’ stories of surrendering to the things unseen and of practicing hope by allowing their struggle to shape them. Again, I saw the emergence of the pattern of Practices I had identified in my own story.
It was at the wedding of fellow Hope Practitioner Ken Cannon that it came to me. The officiant shared personal letters from both Ken and his bride, expressing how they each had come to know that the other was the one. Ken’s letter was really his personal testimony of Surrender (which you will get to hear in his own words very soon) and how he had to become the person he was meant to be in order to receive and love his wife authentically. As I watched all the women wiping their eyes with the handkerchiefs that were handed out before the ceremony, and the partners who put a loving arm around these weeping women, I thought: I HAVE to share Ken’s story!
Here was the revelation: living by hope does not come to us magically, it is revealed to us by the collective encouragement and shared experience of a community. Hope is encouraged in us by the people who walk the journey beside us and by the individuals who mirror hope for us by sharing their stories of struggle and survival. In a day and age when our narratives are being shaped by negative news, social media, violent and negative television storylines, and depraved political messages, it is vital for hope to happen in community because it is too damn hard for it to happen for us independently. Rather than putting our faith in humanity, we must begin to have hope for humanity by placing our faith in a wider collective of living energy – call it God, call it the Divine, call it Universal Energy.
When Living Hope began to form as a community, the project organically fell into place – it would be a community of individuals practicing and sharing the action of Hope. This is why, friend, sharing your own story of coming to faith through practicing Hope is so important. It has the power to inspire and encourage others who, at this very moment, might be losing hope in the same struggle you once experienced and overcame.
In the days and weeks ahead, we will share some of the stories of Hope we have collected– stories that will encourage you, that will let you know you’re not alone, and will move you to actively practice and pursue Hope.
This is Living Hope.
You are loved,