hope is the thing with feathers…10-27-20

Jeanne Lohmann’s poem What The Day Gives inspired me, gave voice to what has been astonishing me all week. I hope this serve as inspiration for you this morning. Her poem is interspersed in this musing:

Suddenly, sun. Over my shoulder
in the middle of gray November
what I hoped to do comes back, asking.

Hope snuck in the back door, boldly laid claim to a place on my lap a couple weeks ago. At first, and more than once, I booted her off from this valuable real estate, territory that despair has occupied for months. Every Buddhist bone in my body warned about the sneaky seductive power of hope. The wily way she steals the present moment from the indulgently unaware. The way she woos her worshippers into wasting time in the milky way of the future.

Across the street the fiery trees hold onto their leaves,
red and gold in the final months of this unfinished year,
they offer blazing riddles.

Hope persistently crept back in. So I resorted to denial. I know what it feels like to have hope dashed. And I did not want to go there. Ever again. But each time she reinstated herself in the crook of my hips, a flush of delight warmed through me. And that sweet rush of optimism? That was not happening in the future. That was a feeling totally present in the current moment.

In the frozen fields of my life there are no shortcuts to spring,
but stories of great birds in migration
carrying small ones on their backs,
predators flying next to warblers they would, in a different season, eat.

And so in classes every day from Wednesday until Sunday I explored this possibility with you. And you. And you. And it seems I am not alone in this wishful sensibility. What arose from the collective in the Sunday closing circle is that everything is changing and it is reasonable to believe that things could get better. Why not? Rebecca Solnit, exploring this theme in her book Hope In The Dark, feels that “hope is a function of uncertainty, of not-knowing …a longing for change, experienced in necessary ignorance of when that change will come or what form it will take.”

Stunned by the astonishing mix in this uneasy world
that plunges in a single day from despair to hope and back again,
I commend my life to Ruskin’s difficult duty of delight,
and to that most beautiful form of courage, to be happy.

When I returned home Sunday, sweet hubby was creating the lawn sign pictured above. I let hope rest in my lap for the balance of the day. She’s still hanging around this morning creating a glow of warmth on this cold and windy autumn morning. She took this poetry out of her wonder pocket and reminded me of words from Emily Dickinson that I offer in closing.

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul
and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.”

Let’s take a deep breath in together right here. Inspiration as vehicle of hope. Inhale once more, invite possibility. Maybe hope can sit right next to despair. But I bet that only hope is the one singing a tune without words. I hope we can practice together somewhere this week. Space for a couple more to be live with us at Clara this Wednesday night. Essentials Thursday and Friday morning. Live or Zoom for the Sunday Sweat.

Love, bella