The New Face of Hope

May 11, 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

Finally, spring has arrived. Even so, I hear many folks growing weary of the political storms blowing about every day. The blustery posturing that hawks fear like a street peddler desperate to make a sale. On many a day, I find it hard to believe in the seasonal rising of hope that typically blooms in May.

And then on a recent morning, I ran across these prayerful words by Rudolf Steiner from his Calendar of the Soul:

Grant fulfillment now for wishes
Whose wings have long been lamed by hope.

And I wondered, does hope really do that – clip the wings of my wishes? Disable the dreams I long to see made real?

Arthur Zajonc, whose insights about meditation and letting go of expectations brought this Steiner quote to my attention, then went on to remind me of Keats’ notion of “negative capability.” Keats, of course, was not talking about the capacity for being negative so abundantly present all around us. He was praising the literary genius of Shakespeare and others “capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.”

Really. In one morning’s reading, I had three of my go-to stabilizers – hope, fact and reason – pulled out from under my feet. It was enough to make my head spin and my heart quiver. The horizon tilted, and I wondered what then do I reach for to stay afloat and keep my balance?

“How strange it is,” Zajonc acknowledges, “that hope lames the wings of grace.” He’s not actually suggesting that hope and fact and reason don’t matter. He is, after all, a physicist. He explains, though, in writing about meditation, the necessity of letting go of the certainties these three stabilizers often depend on. “All our expecting,” he says, “is colored by our desires and convention. In turning toward the void, we turn to that which is eternally new, unanticipated, and unique. How can we see a new face if we are only searching for familiar friends?”

Of course. Doesn’t spiritual work – and the physics of truly revolutionary change – always come back to letting go? Hope, to be useful in times of chaos like our own, must be detached from expectations of specific outcomes. Only the face of something new – a meeting of justice and peace; reconciliation across racial divides and among all beings; and what we often name as the still unrealized dream of beloved community – can truly fulfill the larger wishes stirring now.

In these mixed up, messed up days, I am trying to let go and stop reaching so irritably for what I already know. Waiting with a wider hope not pinned to expectations. Turning my faith and attention toward a new horizon that might begin to steady me even if it’s tilted and unfamiliar.

What are you being asked to let go of now, in claiming a wider hope or a new horizon?

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