Hope – 2020 Edition

It was a gift of an opportunity to facilitate an Advent Retreat today with two other wise women – Marlene Pomeroy, Co-pastor of First Pasadena UCC, and Anne Cohen, a retired pastor and member of that congregation and an experienced Soul Collage facilitator.

For my part, I shared some ideas about hope, including this thoughtful poem by the Brazilian theologian and educator Rebem Alves:

What is Hope?

It is a presentiment that imagination is more real and reality less real than it looks.

It is a hunch
that the overwhelming brutality of facts
that oppress and repress is not the last word.

It is a suspicion
that reality is more complex
than realism wants us to believe
and that the frontiers of the possible
are not determined by the limits of the actual
and that in a miraculous and unexpected way

life is preparing the creative events
which will open the way to freedom and resurrection

The two, suffering and hope, live from each other.

Suffering without hope
produces resentment and despair,

hope without suffering
creates illusions, naiveté́, and drunkenness…

Let us plant dates
even though those who plant them will never eat them.

We must live by the love of what we will never see.

This is the secret discipline.

It is a refusal to let the creative act
be dissolved in immediate sense experience
and a stubborn commitment to the future of our grandchildren.

Such disciplined love
is what has given prophets, revolutionaries and saints
the courage to die for the future they envisaged.

They make their own bodies
the seed of their highest hope.

―Rubem A. Alves, Tomorrow’s Child, 1972.

We also considered American author and Franciscan friar Richard Rohr‘s statement on hope:

The theological virtue of hope is the patient and trustful willingness to live without closure, without resolution, and still be content and even happy because our Satisfaction is now at another level, and our Source is beyond ourselves.

With these thoughts in mind, we brainstormed on our own ideas about hope and specifically on these questions:

What do you hope for?

What gives you hope?

Then, we practiced a variant of lectio divina developed by Sybil MacBeth, author of Praying in Color. To do this, we reflected on Emily Dickinson’s well-loved poem, “Hope is the Thing with Feathers.” If you’d like to learn more about the praying in color practice with Sybil MacBeth, she guides a Lectio Divina session on YouTube here.

After sharing our resulting drawings and doodles, we closed my portion of the day’s workshops with a very brief reference to the Advent Wreath supplies that will be available for drive-thru pickup at FCC on Saturday, November 28. Here are a few links to how-to videos:

Tissue paper stained-glass candle holders – Note that this video uses Mod Podge; we are substituting Elmer’s Glue, and we are working with Advent purples and pinks.

DIY Advent Wreath – This is just one of hundreds of tutorials; let these inspire you to create your own unique interpretation!

How to Cut a Star with ONE CUT from a Square – We didn’t get to this technique in our session together; it’s just a fun way to create sweet and simple signs of hope to scatter around your Advent wreath, string for your Christmas tree, or label your gift packages – a new life for repurposed paper.

Yesterday’s New York Times ran a timely article on self care that suggested creating rituals and adopting practices to “reinvigorate our souls.” Today was a rich opportunity for us to do that in Beloved Community – thank you! Blessings to you and yours.