Hope and expectation

Hope and expectation

After a year of disruptions with severe social and economic impacts for us individually and collectively, we need to hold on to hope.

We are all dealing with Covid—no one is excluded from this experience.

We know the grief of these times; those with secure incomes have had greater security, while those without this have suffered more.

Grief can emerge as feelings of hopelessness, resignation and anger.

However, now is a time for honesty and resilience.

When we can’t see the path ahead, and our goals are frustrated, it is easy to lose hope in the future and in ourselves.

Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.

It is the ability to spring back into shape.

It is a courageous virtue we see in those living and dealing with layer-upon-layer of grief.

We have choices about how we encounter these times; we have a choice to be hope-filled or not.

Hope provides a positive vision for the day and for the future.

Hope is a motivational desire to keep moving forwards. It is an optimistic state of mind. Hope can help us emerge from distressing and even tragic situations with a sense of purpose.

Hope builds resilience

Without hope, our mental and physical health can deteriorate.

Exercise, sensible eating, limited booze and good friends are all part of the jigsaw of hope-filled living.

People with high levels of hope have better physical and mental health, and are a tonic for those who are struggling.

Without hope, life becomes a lonely, isolated experience.

Hope gives a sense of personal meaning—particularly now—more extensive than what we own, where we work, what we think politically, what we have lost.

In fact, too much emphasis on these passing things can create social isolation.

On the other hand, Advent is a time to look at what gives value and brings life.

Goals

Advent is a time to review or modify your goals.

We all need realistic goals that fit the “new normal”, and we need to consider the pathway and the required changes to achieve them.

For example, you might want a big overseas family holiday, but now you’ll have to settle for a holiday in a nearby caravan park.

Embrace it!

Let go of the expectations that bind and bring anxiety and enjoy the simple.

It is time to let go of 2021.

Essential values

As if we need reminding now is a time to pivot in a way that focuses on our essential values, such as family, friendship and community.

It’s a time to step out of ourselves; to recall and care for the needs of others.

It is a time to find new expressions that open up a world of hope and possibilities because they are new, different and challenging; a self-centred view of the world serves no one.

Sharing hope; being grateful

Hope is an invitation to step out of yourself and your own concerns and consider the needs of the bigger world in which you participate as a Christian-Catholic citizen.

Here is a thought.

It might be worthwhile driving up onto a high hill or mountain, getting out of your car and looking around at the vast, wonderful world you are living in and giving thanks.

And when there, look down from your mountain height and see the smallness of the city or town you live in and the smallness of the place where you work.

Then look at the infinite sky and the horizon and be grateful.

Gratitude is the heart of the Christian Eucharist.

Thanksgiving is central to our faith and at the heart of all our sacraments and liturgy.

As we stand with Christ before the Father, we stand as a community of grateful people, people called from darkness, anxiety and fear into God’s life-giving light.

Gratitude mixes with hope to strengthen faith and increase charity. These are theological virtues, not sentimental ideas.

Without a robust theology of life a Christian community becomes just another social agency that will eventually fail.

Being a person of hope is the call of the Christian today.

Our ability to hope is not dependent on our vaccination status—we go much deeper than that.

Hope centred in Christ

Fear has the capacity to undo us and confuse our thinking reducing it to a mind-numbing daily sameness.

The Hebrew People believed and held their hope through the experiences of betrayal, warfare, exile, seemingly pointless meandering in the desert and oppression.

They waited, in hope, for times of joy, peace and well-being.

Christ, who stands before the Father, is the source of our strength, our spirit, our hope and our resilience.

Advent hope helps us navigate life’s uncertainty with some clarity.

  • Dr Joe Grayland is a theologian and a priest of the Diocese of Palmerston North. His latest book is titled: Catholics. Prayer, Belief and Diversity in a Secular Context (Te Hepara Pai, 2020).
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