Here is what I’m sure of; hope is worth fighting for.
The older I get, the less I seem to know. I have plenty of information and access to infinitely more. What I’m lacking is Truth. Certainty. Faith in the world being a certain way, always.
I do know that hope remains vital. Not hope filled with promises, but possibilities. I continue to cling to the ability to imagine a better world and a better life.
Today I’m learning a little more about how hope works. It has a lot to do with love.
I’ve had a rough couple of weeks.
I’ve had a great couple of weeks.
Last Wednesday I found myself on stage at Red Deer’s charming Red Hart Brewing, playing to a full-house in a new city. I’d ask a question and the crowd would answer. I’d invite them to dance and they’d dance. We connected. That hour of magic reminded me of how making music gives me joy and purpose.
Except that what gives me joy doesn’t pay well. Yet? So I’m job hunting.
Last week began with a pre-interview, and this week began with rejection. I won’t be moving forward in the process. That road has ended. I hung up the phone and drove to Dollarama and Walmart in search of some specific candy (we’ll come back to that.) Walmart does not cheer me up. I searched under lonely fluorescent lights and I searched down long stuffed shelves and I couldn’t find what I needed. I brooded at my failure. On every level.
Today I’m preparing for Alberta Showcase. This could be a big weekend for my music career. Talent buyers from across rural Alberta are gathering to discover new acts for their upcoming seasons. These shows are great ‘listening rooms’ and they pay well. Landing even one of these would propel me forward, and I could land at least a few.
I’m practicing my 15-minute set, trying to whittle everything I do down to just three perfect songs. I’m choosing the right shirt and bow tie. I’m gathering my new business cards and printed photos and handmade VON BIEKER banner. I’ve wrapped a hundred packs of Skittles and Reeses Pieces into bow ties (I did eventually find that candy I was looking for at Walmart.)
But then, above all of this hangs a dark and helpless cloud.
This cloud is so much bigger than anything I’ve mentioned so far. It weighs more and may never lift. It’s not my cloud, but its shadow is cast across so many and I can’t speak of hope and love without naming it.
A friend and was struck by a car two Sundays ago. She has remained in critical condition, in a coma, awaiting MRI results. Hundreds of people have been praying. She’s been a mentor to me. She and her husband pastored a church I was involved with. We worked together. She’s a wonderful artist. We travelled around New Mexico for an arts conference together. She always brightens a room with her kindness and grace, yet doesn’t take herself too seriously. She knows how to laugh. She’s a role model. I’m not alone in my praise of this woman. Hundreds are feeling the impact of her accident.
Hundreds have been praying. Updates have shown small progress and some recovery.
Just as I was about to begin my preparations for the weekend, I received news of the MRI results. Her brain damage is severe and irreversible. Without a miracle, my friend will die. Just a month ago we were reminiscing. I don’t know what to do with news like this.
Do I let this cripple me? Where is hope now?
These are the seas I’m trying to swim in today. Some calm and buoying, others rough and out to drown.
Hope is a fight. Every day. A constant struggle.
I’m doing my best to fight. To hold on to hope.
I get up in the morning and work out to take care of my mental state.
I find prayer difficult these days. I can’t focus and it feels futile. I still believe miracles are possible. I think. I still know that prayer can make a difference in situations big and small. I think.
This morning, and most times like these, all I can muster is a song.
“I don’t know what to say
I don’t know what to pray
I just don’t know”
I sing it over and again and tears come. Maybe this is prayer after all.
The song leads me to a famous line from the Bible;
It strikes me that maybe love is the only thing that makes faith and hope possible at all. Maybe this is why love is the greatest of the three.
Today, faith is clouded over and hope is a fight, but I’m surrounded by love.
I read the responses to my friend’s catastrophe – the pages of prayers and well-wishes – and I’m overwhelmed by the love people have for this woman. I realize my own love for her. My grief is somehow carried by a community of care – even though not one of us can do a thing to change the outcome.
When I can’t muster any real hope and I cannot find faith, there is love. Even in despair, I am surrounded by love and I can offer love. I’m so grateful. There’s great hope in that.
In small things like a job interview or a performance showcase, I know to lean into the love and encouragement of those around me and find hope. Is it not the same, then, in the darkest, most helpless of times?
Hope is so often vague – not much more than the ability to imagine something better is possible.
“To imagine is everything.” Close.
The imagination fueled by love. That’s everything.