Three Themes to Help You Encounter Hope

hope-handWhen you were growing up, what kinds of things did you wish for?  Did you wish for good grades, did you wish the acne to disappear from your face, or did you wish that you could take back some words you thoughtlessly hurled at someone in your class?  What’s that quote, “wishing doesn’t make it so?”  No, to get good grades or to have a clear complexion or to resolve the hurt your words caused, you and you alone have to take action.  Your wishes, if they can be granted at all, require you to act.

But then of course, even if you study hard, wash your face three times daily or apologize to the person cut down by your words, your wishes still may not come true.  It’s a fifty/fifty chance that your wishes will prevail.  It all depends on you and even that may not sufficient.  Wishes being fulfilled are no sure foundation on which to stake your future.

What about hoping?  As an adult what do you hope for?  Do you hope that there really is an afterlife, do you hope that all people will be treated with justice and compassion, or do you hope that your employer doesn’t declare bankruptcy, leaving you out of work with no pension to fall back on? These hopes are not affected by your ability to bring them about on your own.

Hoping requires that we consider the three concepts of Expectation, Assurance, and Trust.  As an illustration of how to encounter hope, let me use the example of your employer’s ability to stay in business and keep you employed.

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Confronting the Darkness of Uncertainty

maxresdefaultWhat goes through your mind when a thunderstorm suddenly rages outside, and in an instant, you are left in darkness as all the lights go out?  No candles, no flashlights, just the darkness.

George Iles, a 19th century author of articles concerning various scientific topics wrote, “Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.” Darkness is one of our earliest fears isn’t it?  It may be close to a universal fear.  We desire to see all that is before us and when we are unable to do so, our imagination begins to work overtime.  We see things that aren’t really there, we hear things that cause the hairs on the back of our necks to stand up, or we imagine all sorts of danger looming just over there in the shadows.

I am told that as a very young child I slept with a nightlight on in my bedroom.  We lived in a large, old multi-storied house that creaked and groaned. Having a very active imagination, I conjured up all sorts of creatures lurking in and around our house who made those noises to prepare me for certain doom as their hands reached out for me in the darkness.

At some point I decided the ghosts and goblins and assorted sprites who were trying to scare me no longer would bother me.  I figured if they had wanted to take me to some nether land of the spirit underworld, I would have already been their captive.  That I had survived that fate gave me hope the darkness and whatever it held would not, could not harm me.  A sense of grace-filled survival became the best antidote to the darkness, my fear or my negative thinking.

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Four Actions to Capture Hope

 

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Someone who is now remembered only as Anonymous speaks with words that cannot be better assembled.  A smart writer when confronted with such words, does not attempt to transform those words to his or her own purposes.  To you, my Anonymous source, my thanks for your words that follow:

Hope works in these ways:  it looks for the good in people instead of harping on the worst; it discovers what can be done instead of grumbling about what cannot; it regards problems, large or small, as opportunities; it pushes ahead when it would be easy to quit; it “lights the candle” instead of “cursing the darkness.”    Anonymous

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Inspiration

SkipjackNathan_BeamReach_CyndyMiller_4DorchwebIn response to a teacher friend of mine who asked the question, “what inspires you Jon?” I offered the following answer.  I walk into my downstairs office.  Closing the French doors, I light a stick of incense and sit down.  I close my eyes and take some deep breaths. It is then I am reminded that I am surrounded on three sides by walls of books and other sundry items.  The fourth wall is a very large bay window looking out into my neighborhood.  As I turn my chair to the left, the books on that wall form an eclectic collection of titles.  Dictionaries, WordPress resources, biblical and spiritual resources, books written by some of my favorite authors, and “how to” books fill those shelves.  Also on those shelves are artifacts and gifts given to me by family and friends to remind me of a particular person or moment in time.  Chief among those treasures is an oversized hour glass full of sand, a thirty-minute supply, that a parishioner gave me to use as I rehearsed my weekly sermons.  This good natured gift was to remind me that when the sand had run out I should stop talking.  Every time I turn it over, all I think about is the Wizard of Oz.  When the Wicked Witch’s hourglass was empty…  On the shelves, there are pictures of my favorite fly fishing spots in Colorado and Wyoming and even a few pictures of fish I actually caught.  Every once in a while, I must show proof of the veracity of tales that I tell.

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Why I Want To Blog

 

eq54w9myfn6xfd28p92gMost every day I hear from former church members (remember if you will that I was a pastor in my last life) who still seek my advice, not as their pastor, but as someone they can turn to who they trust.  That trust is important to me.  The overriding reason I would like to blog is to offer a safe place for folks to ask and answer questions and to read the questions and answers of others.  I realize that some folks would prefer anonymity.  That will be an issue of importance to me as I plan the blog’s functionality.  I would imagine that in the beginning, till folks figure out the mechanics of the blog and experience the exchange of questions and answers, I will blog on general topics I know from past experience are concerns most folks encounter.  I would hope to provide resources and links to other sites I know that offer specific assistance for issues outside of my comfort zone or expertise.  So, my blog would also serve as a clearinghouse of sorts.  In short, I want to blog to maintain the relationships I have built over the years and hopefully, as word gets out, to attract new folks to a safe place where people’s questions will be handled with care and compassion.

Also since I was a teacher, coach, and administrator in several schools in yet another life, the same things hold true for former students as they do with former church members.  Former students write, email and call and I would hope they too might take advantage of a blogsite to connect with me and other students.

 

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Calling To You

 

Untitled35-e1393064216549I feel energy vibrations.  I can walk into a house and know within five minutes if it is a safe house or a house that is quietly whispering “get out.”  And if I hear “get out,” I linger.  I have experienced that the voices aren’t there to overwhelm or harm me, the energy is not there as good or bad, but it is there to act like a cattle prod to shock me into confronting a place I would rather avoid.

I also feel the energy of places, the subtle vortexes that throw me off balance.  Walking in the woods or on a mountain trail, my feet fail me and I stagger to retain my balance.  Then I sit and meditate at that spot.  The energy possesses me and clarity opens up my imagination.  From the top of my head to the soles of my feet, I vibrate in rhythm to the heartbeat of heaven.

Words don’t work as teachers.  Words are so considered and so measured that any real meaning or impact those words might have has been sanitized out even before they leave the lips.  Today we call that politically correct speech.  In my grandfather’s day, words followed the rule, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  Words have failed us.

But the subtle energy that doesn’t ask us for permission to speak but nevertheless floods us with invitations and opportunities to grapple with the unknown, that teacher doesn’t give a damn about being correct, just a reflection of stark reality.

I have grown comfortable with wordless communication, with the sharing of energy.  Right now, go outside and feel the breeze or the heat or the cold.   I am there calling your name, drawing you into a new reality.

 

 

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Advice from Pema Chodron

This is an 11 minute video of a talk Pema Chondron has given.  It suggests how we might get unstuck.  This is another way that hope and confidence in oneself can be of great value as we struggle along.

 

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Simple Logic

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The national debt in March of 2006 was approximately $8.2 trillion.  Currently the national debt is approximately $19.3 trillion.  So the obvious question is why the increase?  The answer is the US spends more than it takes in.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist  to realize that this can’t go on.

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