"Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."
--Andy Dufresne in THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
I can’t put into words how I have been feeling the past several weeks and for a lover of words such as myself that is a difficult thing. My emotions have crossed the spectrum from moments of great joy and hope to moments of great sadness and sorrow where I have felt completely and utterly alone. In those dark times, I know that what I feel is only temporary and that it is caused not necessarily because of who I am, but because of the sin in the world in which we live. I know that I am not alone. I have a great support network of friends and family. Yet, those negative feelings are there. I give it up to Jesus and try not to let the darkness steal the joy and hope that surrounds us all if we will only see it. I know that I am not the only person to feel what I feel and that helps to a small degree. I remind myself of friends who have gone through and are going through more difficulties than I. I remind myself that I live in America and despite my poverty (by American standards) I am rich and live a blessed life. I remember that joy is all around and latch on to hope. But even with this knowledge and as strong as my faith is, I am human. I am not infallible. There are times that the darkness slips in and I am overwhelmed.
I’m not exactly where I would like to be in life. The temp job that I took after leaving teaching has turned into a permanent temporary position of sorts with no benefits and no security. I was once an itinerant substitute teacher. Now I’ve become the poster figure for the long-suffering temps of the world. No major works I’ve written have ever been published and I’ve yet to be involved in a motion picture where I get paid for my work. In matters of the heart, well, so far things haven’t turned around for me there either.
Due to my Dad’s rather recent death, I now have a whole series of obligations and duties that I wasn’t expecting. I’ve been doing my best to fulfill those, and though I am my father’s son, I am not my Dad. There are some who have a difficult time realizing and accepting that.
I have friends and acquaintances who because of a recent death or an illness or something are all hurting just as much if not more than I. Most of my closest friends live far away and though we keep in touch and see each other from time to time, I miss them. I want to see them, but can’t. Perhaps it’s because right now I’m so close to sorrow and sadness, but I’ve been noticing a lot more stories of great tragedy in the news, e.g. a young local girl who died from the Mexican swine flu or the little child who was killed after her mother sold her into prostitution and slavery.
As John Coffey said, “I'm tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world everyday. There's too much of it. It's like pieces of glass in my head all the time.” I hear and feel much of that pain. Sometimes, I just try to block it. Then I realize that is probably the worst thing I can do because I don’t want to just exist. I want to live. So, I open myself up and though there are fantastic moments of joy and a few rare moments of happiness, there is also great pain, sorrow, and sadness and with those comes the threat of the darkness.
Yet, though the darkness threatens, it never conquers. There are times that it feels like it is overwhelming, yet it never completely overwhelms. There is always, always, always a glimmer; a flicker that shines out. In that flicker is hope, and in hope there is peace and joy and through them I find strength.
We live in a crazy, mixed-up, topsy-turvy world. Yet, there is the imprint of the divine still here. The Creation has been forever altered by sin, yet it doesn’t forget. It remembers. We remember. We know that though this is the way things are, it’s not the way things are supposed to be and that it doesn’t mean things have to always be this way.
Therefore, though I’m so very far from where I would like to be, I will not give up. I will trudge forth and continue fighting. The darkness will threaten to overwhelm and sometimes succeed, but I will not let it defeat me. I might be a beaten, broken, and wounded warrior, but I am a still a knight and there is always hope. It took almost half a century, but Charlie Brown eventually hit a homerun. Someday I will, too.