urns out you can count on it to happen, like choreographed grace, right there under thousands of roofs, under thousands of steeples, the first Sunday of Advent, this lighting of the Hope candle —- like we’re all getting together to blow the whole lid right off the dark.
The moment we let hope die, part of us dies. You need Hope like a flame in the veins to keep you rising, to keep the light rising.
We keep the Hope candle burning here all week.
Because we need more than one flickering day of hope around here — we need a whole obstacle-shattering season of HOPE.
One kid here again has a sweat-drenching heart rate of 237 beats per minute and some mighty fine doctors are left scratching their heads while our hearts kinda break.
Another kid, right after dinner, has a blood sugar low that plunges to comatose-dangerous depths, no rhyme or reason, just us rummaging for sugar for the kid with no insulin-making pancreas, us all murmuring a bunch of really confused prayers.
The cat gets catastrophically lost outside. The scale is definitely going in the wrong direction. And, like the day before, and the day before, I say the wrong thing, failed to do the right thing, and would like a sign in the sky to know what is the next thing.
Life’s under no obligation to give us what we hope for — but we all hope for a life that gives us hope over and over again.
The essence of every living thing is at least one part hope. To live is to Hope.
But it turns out you can lose your Hope somewhere along a string of doctor’s offices, or your Hope can get jammed up in another slammed door, or everything can careen off kilter and and your Hope can get bruised up pretty badly.
It can hurt to hope.
The Farmer holds that little carved wooden star, that rises over the Messiah Manger. “This little star? We’re gonna go ahead and call it ‘The Giving Light’.”
He looks around at our tribe of toddler and teenagers and now tall men. “And this year, we’re gonna keep passing this Giving Light around. Do an act of givenness, an intentional act of kindness — and leave The Giving Light with your kind act of givenness — so the next person can Give It Forward Today, be the GIFT, and keep passing that star forward every twenty-four hours, just like the stars, the Giving Light always moving forward.”
Till Christmas Eve— when that Giving Light will return and rise over the Messiah’s Manger — knowing that what we’ve given forward, we’ve always given toward Him.The Wise not only still follow the Light, seek the Light — they become the Light.
“So who knows who’s going to go first with that little Giving Light?” I whisper it to the Farmer in the kitchen. The man just winks, eyes glinting with a bit of hope.
And I nod: This is the week that The Giving Light gives Hope — hope that we’re noticed, that we’re seen, that we’re wanted, that we’re loved now more than we’ve ever been.
Our daughters need Hope that their voices matter, and our sons need Hope that they can stand for what matters, and our men need Hope that their sacrifices matter and our sisters need Hope that their courage every confounded day matters and there is always a way.
And on the second day of our Hope week of Advent — a girl here leaves me a box outside my bedroom door — with The Giving Light sitting on top. The Farmer winks.
“Open it.” He nods toward the box.You may not know where you lost some of your Hope — and you never know when Hope will find you again.
And there it is in the bottom of the box — one bulb — and a pot of dirt. An amaryllis bulb. With a thin puck of dirt in the bottom of a plastic pot.
A girl says it quietly from the kitchen. “You can plant it with the other ones? And yeah, I know it doesn’t look like that puck of dirt will expand — but really, go ahead and add the two cups of water? And just — wait and see?”
Littlest Girl pours the water into the pot, showering the 1 inch dirt puck in a bit of showering rain— and we wait for the soil to swell.
“Well — look at that,” the Farmer stops on his way through the kitchen half an hour later, leans over the pot. He grins over at me, “Wait with faith— and what doesn’t seem doable — can be seen done.”
And the Farmer stirs the pot now fill to the brim with dirt.
And I dig a hole for that one bulb swollen with hope — and with hands in dirt, dropping it that bulb, I whisper it again:
You have to plant Hope at the bottom of your hole.
Holes exist — to plant Hope.
Have a hole? Plant Hope.Plant Hope at the bottom of every hole.
And I bury the bulb — believing. Wait with faith— and what doesn’t seem doable — can be seen done.
And I line up that newly planted pot with a trio of other bulb-planted pop, all in different stages of growth and bloom — and I kneel over to touch that one amaryllis shoot already rising up toward the light.
You need Hope like a flame in the veins to keep you rising.
You have to keep holding on to Hope to keep holding on.
You having to keep finding your Hope when you’ve lost it, or you lose your way.
You have to breathe hope to keep your lungs and your dreams from collapsing.
You have to let Hope always carry you or fears will carry you away.
And these days? The world needs less fear mongers and more Hope Mongers.
Fear says our only choices are either fight, flight, or freeze, but Hope says we always have the choice of optimism, options, and optimizing all things for good.
Hopemongers knows there will always be obstacles in the way, but there is always still a way.
Hopemongers believe The Way forward is always greater than any obstacles in the way.
Hopemongers know there is always a way to get from here to there.
And at the back window — I water all four of my little buckets of hope. Plant Hope at the bottom of every hole.
And when I stand in the kitchen, I can see it when I looking past the Hope candle blazing on in the Advent wreath.
There on the front porch window, sitting atop what was the starless, thrifted ceramic Christmas tree out on the front porch — there’s now a little carved wooden star.
And the Farmer catches me catching the light of that little thrifted tree’s star, and I ask him grinning like a found Chershire cat.
“You — found another Giving Light? A carved star? For the little ceramic tree too?” His eyes are unabashedly glinting again.
“You never know when Hope might find you.”
And the Farmer winks, like all this giving light can lift the dark and out of any black hole, there can rise a stellar Hope.