It seems to me that we humans have a deep, ever-present yearning to see our hopes realized. We may hope for different things, but we all seem to put our hopes in something, or someone.
Perhaps the reason hope tends to linger is because so often it can feel unfulfilled, yet even in the worst of times, there still seems reason for it.
There have been a lot of deaths in our neighbourhood of Parkdale recently. Some of the deceased have been closer to The Dale than others, but all are felt, and many are hurting. Among the living, we journey with many people who are struggling with addiction and/or mental health issues. Earlier this week I had the opportunity to sit and chat with a friend of The Dale who has self-identified as an alcoholic for many years. “I’ve been sober for two days” she said. I affirmed her accomplishment. She then began to share about her history with the Church, saying that she grew up Catholic, but found the gatherings bland and cold. (I’m not sharing this to slam the Catholic Church, only as a distinct reality of this lady’s life. In truth, there are churches in every denomination that could be accurately described this way). She then focused her attention on the cross…
Side note: If you’re unfamiliar with Christian tradition, you may not be aware of an inner friction regarding the icon of the cross itself. For many Catholics, it’s important to recognize the suffering of Jesus, and of our life here on earth, and so Jesus is commonly depicted as a suffering saviour, hanging on the cross. Many Protestants prefer to look to a barren cross as a reminder that Jesus is no longer there, having won victory for all humankind over death.
Though there is merit in both iconic images of the cross, my friend, full of hope, declared: “Jesus isn’t on the cross… I worship a risen saviour!”
Her hopeful defiance against a debilitating addiction encapsulated both images of the cross. We do indeed suffer in this life, and yet there is a risen saviour who has ensured our victory. Her declaration pierced my heart, and my eyes began to well up with tears.
There’s a biblical proverb that goes like this:
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12)
At The Dale, we are at times heart-sick. But there are also times when hope abounds. It grows and it flourishes. It is a life-giving tree.