“It is a certain sign of a wise government and proceeding that it can hold men’s hearts by hopes when it cannot by satisfaction.” Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
I have an acquaintance who is on a personal journey from his roots in a fairly traditional, orthodox religious denomination to embracing an eclectic view of religion, faith, karma, and purpose. He seems happy and content with the freedom he is finding in examining noble purposes – purposes that uplift, affirm, and broaden his life. Hence I follow him on Facebook because he prompts me to evaluate my worldview statement – “every life should have a noble purpose.”
I don’t know for certain, but I suspect he has found release from seeing things as right/wrong/ yes/no, obeying/questioning. I suspect he has discarded constraints that have previously hindered his ability to sense and serve the needs of people from other faith traditions. He seems to have found broader definitions for words such as happiness, faith, God, purpose and tolerance.
I mention this because my friend/acquaintance appears so happy when I see him on Facebook Live or in photos or various other video presentations online. His online presence is overflowing with happiness and energy. Quite frankly, I want some of that.
Finding happiness in one’s life is a very specific undertaking. While you and I may have teachers, confidantes, family, and friends who suggest ways to find happiness, in the end it is our task alone to find that which offers us happiness.
Happiness begins easily enough. Because today is National Random Acts of Kindness Day, I decided to pay for the coffee of the person behind me in the drive thru lane. As I pulled into a vacant parking spot to drink my coffee, I wondered what the person whose coffee I just purchased was thinking. I didn’t have to wonder for long, because suddenly there was a knock on my car’s window. It was the recipient of my free cup of coffee. The person thanked me for the unexpected kindness I had shown them. They asked why I did what I did. I explained the National Day of Random Acts of Kindness concept. The person said my simple act of kindness had been a blessing. They seemed happy which made me happy.
So tomorrow I will try to find some occasion to help someone else find a little happiness. It probably won’t be the coffee thing again. For instance, I know someone who is the sole care provider for a terminally ill relative. She never gets a break from care-giving and never has a moment to herself. Perhaps I can offer her some company or a respite from care-giving. I am sure she hasn’t had a moment to herself in many months. I want to do that – I can do that.
Every life should have a noble purpose. That’s when we will get a glimpse of the power and promise of hope – the theme of this blog site.
Start small, think about your life. What have you learned, what can you share, what happiness or kindness can you offer to someone in need?
Those of us who blog, often feel as if there are no words to adequately represent our thoughts. We become stuck – the proverbial writer’s block. While it may be overly dramatic to suggest that at that moment we have hopelessly lost our way, the hope of a finished piece of writing seems quite distant. Hope for a writer is realized when the editor says,”good job.” We call on the Muses, we go to books filled with writers’ prompts, we meditate, we read the work of others, all in hope of finding the synaptic connections that will open up our creative process once again.
That’s where I have been for about a month or so. That and the flu, but that’s the subject for another post. In the most unlikely of moments when all thought of writing had been exorcised, I found words to write. As I was sitting at the stop light, a truck pulled up next to me. Waiting for the light to turn green, I glanced at the panel van idling beside me. On the side of the truck, along with the name and website address of the organization that owned the truck, was this simple message – “upload hope.”
Upload Hope. That phrase was setting off sparks in my brain as I got in line at my favorite coffee store drive thru. Caffeine seemed the elixir for unlocking the secret of the truck’s message – UPLOAD HOPE. As I approached the window, ready to exchange data on my smartphone for coffee, the woman at the window said, “your coffee was paid for by the person in front of you. They said they felt badly for having made you wait so long in line. They also asked me to say thank you for not honking your horn or glaring at them.” I am certain my benefactor’s tone was more magnanimous than the barista was able to project.
The stoplight, the truck and it’s message, the kindness of a stranger conspired to produce a kernel of insight. Too much serendipity for me to ignore. I pulled into a vacant space in the parking lot and began to write. I know I could have continued to let despair, writer’s block and annoyance fill my heart or I could have chosen to be guided by this new bit of inspiration – upload hope. I chose hope. After all, I was writing again even if it was on my smartphone in a strip mall parking lot. I had caffeine, I had inspiration, and I had the recent memory of the kindness of a stranger. My heart was warmed by hope in common decency and civility.
I look for hope every day – short term hope as well as the long term eternal kind of hope. Some of my more religious friends would say I am cultivating “an attitude of gratitude.” I wouldn’t say that just because I don’t like my faith reduced to jingles. But it is true that if I have a choice between uploading anxiety, despair, feeling blue, being consumed with doubt (you get the idea) or uploading hope, hope will win every time. Hope never disappoints me.
I have faith that whatever happens in the world, my hope comes as a promise made to me some two thousand years ago – “peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” A good thought then, a good thought now. Upload this hope into your hearts.