This year, each thing that brings us even just a bit of joy or escape or peace seems to have extra pressure placed upon it.
That weekly time alone in the car on a quiet drive away from a too full house. That weekly time with family on Zoom when we see our grandchildren or children when we are otherwise in a too-quiet house. The Christmas decorations that we kept up longer this year, their twinkling lights adding just a bit more glow to the long nights.
With meteorological spring upon us, it feels as though the very promise of spring is holding more of our hopes than in other years.
Perhaps spring is not a particularly bad place to rest our hopes. Spring will inevitably come. The days grow longer, warmer weather will follow, and green shoots and buds will arrive too. All of these will be harbingers of a new season, a returning of more observable life in the natural world around us.
The caution I offer is not to hold back hope, but rather to place it in even more things. We need more sources of hope these days. Perhaps even things that are not guaranteed, which come with a bit of risk.
We can hope for renewed commitment to the safe community practices for gathering. We can hope for changes in how we build infrastructure to support life in a changing world. We can hope for deeper relationships with loved ones we haven’t been able to touch in too long.
When we place hope in things that are less a question of when they will happen and more a question of if they will happen, we need a different form of hope.
In situations like hoping for spring, we are using a more passive kind of hope: something that we can look forward to as a source of joy. This is important; it keeps our emotions up during challenging times. And in situations like hoping for positive outcomes in society, we are in need of an active hope. This form requires us to be engaged in the process to will the desired outcome into existence.
So I invite you to engage in both forms of hope as the season turns. Place hope on those things that are sure to come true and those things that require you to participate to make them happen. Remember that active hope is also a relational hope, we need to tend to our piece of the work to make it happen. Hope both for the crocuses to bloom and for changed behavior of ourselves and of others. Both, and more, are possible.
The Rev. Kevin W. Jagoe is minister of BuxMont Unitarian Universalist Fellowship – a community of believers, nonbelievers, seekers, and skeptics. Find them at buxmontuu.org.