Exchanging Weariness for Hope

 In Reflections

“Hope is a song in a weary throat.” —Pauli Murray

At our Advent retreat this past Saturday, facilitator Joe Barry invited us to contemplate some thoughtful questions.

Using a powerful quote from Howard Thurman as food for thought, Joe asked “Can we exchange our weariness for hope? Like many good questions, I continue to ponder it while finding examples of how the answer to Joe’s question is Yes!

Listening to a friend speaking yesterday about a major transition she’s in the midst of, she stopped suddenly and exclaimed with delight after noticing a new hibiscus bloom on an indoor plant. Amidst her weariness, a gift of hope was offered. Her response reminded me of my joy in discovering the beauty of the Christmas Cactus when I moved to Austin.

If you’re feeling weary from life events and world news and rest isn’t helping, can seeking examples of hope lift you up? What has been a source of hope for you in the past? Can that source light the way forward for you now?

From surprising winter blooms to the birth of a child or a call from a friend, glimmers of hope abound. May they find you now.

The Growing Edge

“All around us worlds are dying and new worlds are being born; all around us life is dying and life is being born. The fruit ripens on the tree, the roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth against a time when there shall be new lives, fresh blossoms, green fruit. Such is the growing edge! It is the extra breath from the exhausted lung, the one more thing to try when all else has failed, the upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor. This is the basis of hope in moments of despair, the incentive to carry on when times are out of joint and men have lost their reason, the source of confidence when worlds crash and dreams whiten into ash. The birth of a child — life’s most dramatic answer to death — this is the growing edge incarnate. Look well to the growing edge!”

―Howard Thurman (thank you, Joe Barry, for sharing Thurman’s wisdom with us)

Renews a Weary Spirit

“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”
―Robert Louis Stevenson

Brilliant Sky

Never between the branches has the sky
burned with such brilliance, as if
it were offering all of its light to me,
to say—what? what urgent mystery
strains at that transparent mouth?
No leaf, no rustle… It’s in winter,
in cold emptiness and silence, that the air
suddenly arches itself like this into infinity,
and glitters.

This evening, far from here,
a friend is entering his death,
he knows it, he walks
under bare trees alone,
perhaps for the last time. So much love,
so much struggle, spent and worn thin.
But when he looks up, suddenly the sky
is arrayed in this same vertiginous clarity.

—Jean Joubert, translation by Denise Levertov, Black Iris by Jean Joubert, Denise Levertov.

Note: Cathey Capers shared this poem in one of our Poetry of the Season sessions a few years ago, and she kindly helped some of us by also offering a definition of “vertiginous.” (adjective causing vertigo, especially by being extremely high or steep)

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