Hope in a space of Hopelessness


Quick summary: In this post I will offer a metaphor that sheds light on a common misperception of hope – being that hope is SONY DSCconnected only to concrete outcomes… that hope is a belief that things will one day be what they are not ever to be. Instead perhaps there can be hope for a positive abstraction… hope that what is is how it should be
Let me start with a story…
In the open wilderness of Utah there was black bear happy awake and eager. The lush riparian habitat of the lower mountain valley was rich with spring time vegetation smells. Splashing carelessly in a creek the bear bowed down to fill its belly with rich fresh and cold mountain water. From the bank a fern seed gently dropped into the creek flow and drifted casually until it found itself resting attached to the moist beard of our young bear. Quenched the bear slowly trotted off hypnotized by an intriguing scent flowing to his nostrils from a great distance. With excitement the bear accelerated with instinctual certainty to the mating smell and as he ran the moisture evaporated from his coat leaving the seed cradled is a matt of drying hair.
The land changed from huckleberry bushes to junipers and then again to sage plants. Through dust and tumbling dry bushes the bear continued forward. That night brought an atypical rain that gave life to a sandstone creek bed. The bear joyously bent down to rehydrate and the delicate fern seed found itself cradled in the soft slow movement of the water… flowing forwards with openness the seed came to rest on the bank under the shade of now dead juniper tree.
The following day a mild sun cast its indirect light on the earth warming the seed to open in birth…
What is the hope for this fern?
The point is that having hope doesn’t always involve a belief that everything will be as we want it to be… hope often ends up being a faith in what will be.
This seed will not live in the lush riparian habitat to which it was meant for… in such a foreign and unforgiving environment the fern will grow in ways different than it could have expected.
Having hope that the fern will live as it would by the wet banks of forest creek when it in fact the seed is nestled in the sandy soil of a seasonal creek bank is to hope for the most unlikely… such can diminish our hope in hope and ultimately lead to a sense of despair.
Instead then, when the environment in chaotically unfitting, we hope that what comes to be is exactly as it should be.

To have faith that there is meaning in meaninglessness

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.
William Hambleton Bishop
William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

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