I am pondering the virtue of hope and wondering how it is different from wishful thinking. I first remembered an old saying “if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” That certainly suggests the futility of just wishing for something. Then sometimes denial masquerades as wishful thinking. “I’m sure he won’t use on his father’s birthday.” That kind of thinking often keeps someone from seeing and acknowledging the truth.
What then signifies hope? For Emily Dickinson “Hope is the thing with feathers–That perches in the soul–And sings the tune without the words–And never stops at all.” A small bird then nestled deep inside of someone singing without ceasing. Hope does seem intrinsic sometimes, something we are born with, an expectation that things will work out somehow. Of course many experiences can dash, squash and hamper hope. Cynicism seems a logical retreat when hopes are so often met with disappointment. But since the ancients saw hope as a virtue, I am considering the possibility that I and others can nurture it.
I’m not clear on how to feed hope when so much around me feeds despair and cynicism. Good music seems to feed the little bird of hope in me. So does attending weekly Mass. Gratitude for what is serves to remind me that past times of despair preceded present times of joy. May I continue to learn how to nurture hope and counter discouragement. May I be open to learning from others how to keep hope alive.