Friday, December 24, 2010


Christmas Eve in Baltimore, approaching midnight.
Something is different.
There is no noise.

No sounds of cars and trucks rattling down my street.
No people talking loudly as they walk by.
No sirens, not even the distant sounds of trains.

For once Baltimore seems like a normal city.
I love the quiet.
It is the sound of peace.

I hear it is quiet in Boquete.
Except during the Flower Festival, soon after I arrive.
Then late-night discos vie for the loudest.

I think my little house will be out of earshot.
If not, I'll roll over in bed.
And hope for the best.

Hope – that four-letter word so filled with meaning.

Hope implies something positive.  We hope for the best; we don’t hope that something bad will happen (I hope).

Hope cannot exist without its two companions, faith and love.  One cannot speak of hope without affirming the others.

In this context “faith” does not refer to religious faith, such as faith in a divinity.   Nor is it a blind faith that entrusts the fulfillment of one’s hope to powers and circumstances external to oneself. Instead, faith here means an assuredness in a specific outcome that is hoped for, a firm belief that one’s hope not only possible, but also achievable.  We must have faith that our hope will be fulfilled, else what’s the point in hoping?

Hope helps us define our vision of what we want the future to be, and with faith we can achieve it - a future that is somehow better than the present.

But what is it, really, that enables our hopes to become reality?  The third leg of the stool:  love.  Once again, this love is not the traditional notion of romantic love.  Rather, it is a way of interacting that is based on mutual respect and compassion, with a shared goal of moving toward a peaceful outcome in everything we do.

As Paul said in I Corinthians: 
"And now these three remain:  faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love."

Love is what makes hope possible.
We have just passed the thirtieth anniversary of John Lennon’s death, and the end of yet another Christmas season.  Now, after all the presents have been unwrapped, all the food eaten, all the hellos and goodbyes of reunions said – what is there left to hope for?

On this cusp of a New Year, it is natural to define new hopes.  It is my hope that you have hopes that endure long past any artificial division of the calendar.  Notwithstanding the usual self-centered Resolutions, but hopes that can be shared and fulfilled by all humanity.

Hoping for the best - that sums up how I feel for you and the world today.

Hoping for the best in our forward-thinking church.
Hoping for the best in our conflicted world,
And for defenseless people harmed by selfish leaders.

Hoping for the best, that nations may learn peace.
 Hoping for the best, that they may lay down arms
And use their wealth to help humanity.

As John Lennon said in his immortal song, “Imagine”:

"You can say that I'm a dreamer,
But I'm not the only one.
I hope someday you'll join us,
And the world will live as one."

How little progress the world has made toward John Lennon’s vision.  Or Jesus's, for that matter.

But we can always hope.

Morning Glory

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