We’re living in a time now where the word Hope is hot. It was the theme of a political campaign that won a young man the Presidency. Now he sits precariously as the harbinger of hope. I pray for him with all my heart. I pray to the only One who gives me hope.
Hope is like a helium balloon, it is lighter than air and all too quickly can disappear, even as the Greeks feared that hope’s companion is that inevitable foe: Delusion. Hope must be tied to something to really be able to stick around, to have any verity of reference, any true sustainability. So, one of the strings that holds my balloon is grounded to the true Giver of hope. The other tie (and I’m not sure yet if there are any other strings, but these two are enough for me) is time: Time is the context for hope to have any meaning at all as a word and as a concept. I hope because I live in time and my present time causes me to hunger with hope. Hope is a real thing because I am in the not-yet time of what hope looks to. Anticipation is sweet if it is grounded in something real that I am beginning to taste and understand. The string I hold leads me to the sight of that lofty balloon. There is something there and I can almost touch it, I am munching on an hors d’oeuvre and that is why I can hope. The compound word in French literally means “outside, the main work”. Hors d’oeuvres sustain the guests until the meal, the “real work” arrives; and these hors d’oeuvres are said to increase my appetite. These are concepts that only make sense if there is such a thing as time. Time’s stretching out and its restless, yearning ambiguity are context for true hope. Because of time, I can learn and experience hope. Without time, hope makes no sense and is meaningless.
Here is a rich quote about time from a book I am presently enjoying:
“Childhood’s time is Adam and Eve’s time before they left the garden for good and from that time on divided everything into before and after. It is the time before God told them that the day would come when they would surely die with the result that from that point on they made clocks and calendars for counting their time out like money and never again lived through a day of their lives without being haunted somewhere in the depths of them by the knowledge that each day brought them closer to the end of their lives.” Frederick Buechner The Sacred Journey, p.10