What is that keeps our hope alive and gets us through the tough things of suffering? I think that each of us has something or someone that give us a hope. This “reason of hoping” maybe a person, or a special place, or a religious belief, or a vision of life that is strong enough to weather the internal storms and strife.
There is an Ethiopian legend about a shepherd boy, Alemayu, that speaks to me of the power of hope. Alemayu had to spend the night on a bitterly cold mountain. He had only a very thin cloth to wear. To the amazement of all the villagers, he returned alive and well. When they asked him how he survived, he replied:
The night was bitter. When all the sky was dark, I thought I would die. Then far, far off, I saw a shepherd’s fire on another mountain. I kept my eyes on the red glow in the distance, and I dreamed of being warm. And that is how I had the strength to survive.
Each of us had “shepherd’s fire on another mountain” that has kept our hope alive. When The nights of our life have been dark and bitterly cold, we have seen something “far, far off” that helped us to survive. This “fire” has given us the courage to recover our lost self and to believe in the dreams that stir in our soul.
The time comes when we need to move on, when it is no longer appropriate or healthy to stay logged in the darkness or pain of past wounding. Slowly we move forward with a new understanding of how we are to live the next part of our life. Hope encourages us toward new beginnings.
Beginning again, with a wisdom we had acquired from going deeper and discovering who we have become and who we now are – this is a big piece of hope that the suffering and the anxiety offer to us. Sarah, woman of faith of Hebrew scripture, knew about hope. After she said to uprooting, leaving behind her security, trekking into the vast unknown, she gives birth to Isaac, a name meaning “laughter” . Isaac was the new beginning of Sarah. Isaac is our symbol of our own new beginnings.
What is there in our life that we at least expect will unfold? What “child” has come forth out of our suffering womb of darkness? Our Isaac are varied and many: mended or newly relationship, old dreams dusted off and brought to life, creativity that we never believed in before, a view of ourselves that is both beautiful and bountiful, a spiritual path that energized us, a work that never seemed possible. There are many “children” as a result of our suffering seeding – our “Isaac” have unlimited potential.
Quotes from Joyce Rupp’s book Dear Heart, Come Home, Pauline Publishing House, Pasay City, 1997.