June 27. “Men and women are limited not by the place of their birth, not by the color of their skin, but by the size of their hope.” (John Johnson)
It has been a struggle today for me to come up with a reflection about this quote. While my beginnings were relatively humble, many would still say that I came from some degree of privilege. And, because I am white, I cannot identify with the plight that people of color did and do experience in this country.
For me, there has always been hope. Not because of the color of my skin, or because of my relative wealth, but because I was taught that there can always be a brighter tomorrow, if I am willing to work for it. For me, that means hope, and hope – no matter how difficult my life may be – always makes tomorrow worth looking forward to.
There have been times in my life when my hope has been at an ebb tide. I have experienced the depths of depression and desperation. I have felt like I was at the bottom of a well looking up, with no ability to scale the walls. But even in those depths, I never completely lost hope.
There have been times in my life when I have sat with a friend who was going through extreme difficulties. Some were financial, some health related, some relationship based. In those times I learned that there are really only two things I can give that are of value – an ear to listen, and my words of hope. I have no special power to give advice on how people should proceed. I can certainly speak of what I have tried in similar circumstances, but I always tell them to take that with a grain of salt. But, I can offer a sympathetic ear to listen to them, and I can help them to see that there is always hope for things to get better.
I am not talking about belting out Little Orphan Annie songs about the sun coming up tomorrow. I am talking about actually helping them see where the glimmers of real hope are in their lives, and to encourage them to move in the direction of that glimmer. Sometimes I have been successful, and other times I have not, but always I have given that sympathetic ear and made that offering.
As I said at the top of this post, I have struggled with a reflection about this quote. For me, hope is a given. Today my reflection and my prayer is for those who cannot see the hope evident in their lives. I pray that they will find that glimmer for themselves, so they can find their way through.