Finally, a decent hour to awake, my body adjusting to the senseless change of time. I liked the sun rising in the early morning, and now… well, I did see the waning moon halfway in the sky, bright in the dawn light, shining through the living room window. The bare wisps of clouds were on the southern horizon behind it. My attention was diverted for a moment, with the intention to sit and stare at this celestial companion. Once I was able, and it was not long in coming, the moon had disappeared. I tried to find it behind a tree, it wasn’t there. I moved around, high and low, left and right, it wasn’t to be found. The moon was gone, and I don’t know where it went. Now the sun rises, not yet above the trees and hills. A white feather floats downward from high above, drifting in front of my small grove of eager saplings, a diverse group if ever there was one.
In my prayers this morning I prayed for hope. I don’t feel hope right now. That’s a tricky situation to be in. Hope is more than happy thoughts, it is the essence of what we do. There can be questions about where our hope is placed, there are wrong and right sources, but without it entirely… well, that puts a person in a bad spot. In thinking, though, I would decline to say that I feel hopeless. I am without hope, though I am not hopeless. Yes, that’s a wrangling of words, a contradiction even. Nevertheless this is the case.
Honestly, I feel lonely this morning. It is a holiday, even though it is not a feasting kind of holiday, and I feel the emptiness of being the only part of a conversation. It is not something particular I feel I am missing, just the intangibles of the presence of another, of others. I want to bask in the aura of the image of God which fills others. I feel, spiritually, like I have stared in the mirror too long. It is not just being around people, that is an easy fix. It is the more, the presence of companions dedicated through and around time. For these, I call and no one answers it seems.
The lack of hope is a relative expression I realize. There is a distinction between two people who run, one of whom is eighteen miles into a marathon, the other who can’t get out of the chair to start jogging a mile. Both may despair over making it twenty-six miles, both may have doubts and fears. The former, however, is invested. A true lack of faith, I realize, a true lack of hope, would lead me to abandon all paths, to push me to make it on my own, outside of the Divine, outside of prayer. A true lack of faith makes God nothing more than window dressing in a well tailored life.
So there is missing hope and there is missing hope. The perspective is the vital piece. And today, in the middle of an overlong race, I feel a mite bit lost. What’s the point of climbing this mountain the adventurer might say, attaching his oxygen bottles to begin the final assault.
I lack hope, my faith is diminishes, my soul is weak and I am sad. Yet, I write this. I write this because in my depths, in the deepest places of my heart, I feel I will be able to read this in later years and say, “Aha, it was good, God is good.”
Wesley often noted, as did Mother Theresa and many others throughout time, he did not feel the love of God in his life, did not feel he loved God, felt it all a sham. This while he continued onwards. At my age, Wesley was floundering in Georgia, a missionary to the lost who didn’t want him, a failure and a religious zealot all at once, downright offensive in much of his pursuits. He was shipped back to England after this, after having legal charges filed against him by a onetime romantic interest. It took God, ‘strangely’ warming his heart to push him to the next level, not a conversion as much as an activation of his pursuits.
I say this because I feel a tremendous lack of hope, feel my steps faltering, my faith weak. And yet, within this all, is the core of belief which makes me continue to jump out into the void, feeling alone because I have already acted in faith. Yes, I can turn other ways, but no I cannot. To turn for me, to grasp onto those things which the world presents (or doesn’t) is more than just a career or social move. Bound up in it is the whole question of faith. Right or wrong (and I’m not arrogant to say either) I feel that to switch tacks now requires me to jump ship, to quit the race. Yes, I feel a need for surrounding companions, yes I feel heartbroken that much of my dreams have not resolved themselves. But, I stick to the race laid out for me.
Jesus, at this point in time on this historical day, was being whipped and beaten, dragged before Pilate. What begins now is a marking of one of the most unjust beatings in history, and it continues for many hours. This he endured for me. A little emotional misery I surely can endure for him, to see this race won, to embrace that which he has for me.
He does make all things new. He did and he does. Beyond our own time, outside our own methods, shifting from utter pain to total joy in an instant, he works then and now. This is the hope even when all hope seems gone.
And so Good Friday begins.