“But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:13.
Being hopeful takes a lot out of a person. With so much wrong in the world, with so much pain and loss, the temptation to backslide into cynicism is strong. And while I do consider myself to be a person of faith – not so much religious, but I do feel in my gut, in my core that there is a God – I am not exempt from questioning that belief. I can’t claim to have all the answers. To have any answers. I just don’t know. I do believe that there is something, some force, some energy, some “something” out there. Or probably more accurately, in here. But is that “something” something tangible? Does that “something” lose sleep when I’m dealing with something difficult? Does that “something” respond to requests for homeruns or no hitters? Does that “something” “care” about me, about us? Does that “something” send emissaries to us, send an angel to a very sad little girl at Christmastime to stand at the end of her bed and comfort her and tell her that she is loved?
On these things I can only speculate.
Sometimes it feels too hard, the road too long, and all I can think is – perhaps it’s time to give up. But the problem with that is I can never figure out what “giving up” means. There is no such thing as doing nothing, even nothing requires some action. That’s when I remember what hope is – hope is just showing up, when just that is all that you can do. And when you do that, you’ve already started to change things. And maybe, that instinct in us to just keep going, is nothing more than a biological imperative, no divine mystery, just something implanted to keep us from being eaten. Or maybe it has a divine source, implanted to keep us from being eaten.
But I don’t care, well not a lot, where this instinct comes from, I mostly care about the result. And the result, this imperative to keep going, to keep moving forward, to make art, to explore the universe, to see what things are around the bend, or to leave something behind, to leave a legacy, whether that is a child or a cathedral, or to try to make things better for someone else – that is the thing that makes us human. So that’s the faith and hope part, but the other part of it is to care whether our fellow humans show up too, to not leave anyone behind. And that, I think, is the “love” part.
I am hopeful because today we reach out to our friends, neighbors, our families, biological or chosen, we come together with the people we love. Today we celebrate the birthday of someone who changed the world, who came to tell us that we have the answer to everything in one word – love, and if we insisted on making it more complicated than that, that was our right, but really, we only need that.
“But the greatest of these is love.”
Merry Christmas everyone!