I’ve been reading a book on Hope…the third chapter begins with an Emily Dickinson poem,
"Hope is the thing with feathers-
that perches in the soul-
and sings the tunes without the words-
and never stops at all"
It is true that hope is something that is hard to hold…it is something that is tender, fragile yet can be strong, immovable, and enduring. I still remember an old story that appears in the Gnostic Gospels about Jesus holding a small bird and asking his friends whether it was dead or alive…that’s the way hope feels…it is in the palm of my hand and heart and I don’t really know if it is alive or dead. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to ask the questions about whether I have hope or am feeling hopeless…I’ve been in denial about it, I guess. I’m usually a painfully annoying optimist…for some reason, something else is laying its heaviness upon my soul. To use Dickenson’s analogy, sometimes the bird stops singing…that’s the season of life that I believe I am discovering…I can’t hear the singing…the inward singing has stopped. St. John of the Cross called it the dark night of the Soul. I have that book…it is sitting on my shelf staring at me…but I’m afraid of picking it up. I don’t want my fears about an inner sense of hopelessness to be confirmed. Where are they coming from? Why has the bird stopped singing? I’m seeking that today…where is this coming from? How can I emerge and hear that sweet singing again?