#76 – Soundings in Hope


This week, in the midst of cancer treatment, I had reason to lean into hope. Here are some “soundings in hope” I pondered.

Sounding #1:

This week I remembered Hope Bear, a pastoral care assistant at one of the congregations I served. This cuddly teddy bear resided with older children and with women for a time as they underwent surgery or struggled with trying illnesses. Hope lost an ear at one point, which I thought appropriate, since many of her recipients had missing body parts.  I gave her to someone permanently a few years back.

A woman with Parkinson’s disease sewed Hope Bear for me. Hope was one of the last sewing projects her hands could manage.

Sounding #2

I remembered a conversation I had long ago with a person with a chronic illness.  I was amazed by his wisdom, and still am.

He said something like this:

“Our society is so big on control, on happiness being defined in particular ways. But to even try to define hope is a kind of control. Because if we can define something, then we think we can measure it.  And if we can measure it, then we think we should be able to manufacture it or duplicate it.

“Maybe it’s only when things happen that we can’t control that we begin to enter into hope. Maybe it’s only when we come up against a barrier, up against mystery.

“Maybe sometimes we need to declare hope without explanation or proof, even when our experience challenges it.”

Sounding #3:

Messiah-programI remembered standing one evening as a choir sang the Hallelujah Chorus in a concert hall. And it seemed to me that we were up against mystery.  By standing and listening (or by standing and singing!), we were declaring Christian hope without explanation or proof, in spite of or perhaps because of some of our recent experiences.

As I looked around, I saw numbers of people who had endured serious illnesses, or who had come through difficult times of one sort or other. I hadn’t known whether some of these folks would ever be able to enjoy an evening at a concert hall again, much less sing such an affirmation of Christian hope.

But there we were.  I imagined us as a sort of temporary community holding ourselves and others in God’s hope.

Sounding #4:

Standing for the Hallelujah Chorus, I remembered that the first Christians relocated hope.  Hope finds its true home, they said, in Jesus’ death and resurrection. These usher in a reign of God that has no end – in which all of us are called to participate.

Sounding #5:

I’ve concluded that hope is different from optimism and positive thinking.  It’s also not the same thing as wishing. Wishing tends to focus on specific objects or outcomes, as in “I wish I would have traveled more.” Wishing can become quite a self-absorbing and self-absorbed activity.

Hope focuses instead on the larger picture, often including but going beyond human activity, as in “I hope for God’s reign on this beautiful planet.” At the very same time, hope recognizes limitations, and can actually be quite ordinary in its expectations, as in “This fall I hope to drive into the countryside to revel in the coloured leaves.”


Published by HarperCollins

In A Prayer for Standing on Tiptoe, Macrina Wiederkehr puts together our “Kingdom-loving hearts” and our “earth eyes” in describing the location of hope.  Her prayer poem concludes:

“But still we stand
on tiptoe
Owning our kingdom-loving hearts
and our earth-eyes
We lean forward
and hope.”

Sounding #6

God be with you till be meet again (HWB #430) was our sending song at church last Sunday. It felt like our local Christian community was singing itself into the hope and the expectation of God’s loving care. All week, I’ve wrapped myself in this hymn’s lyrics, enhanced by Ralph Vaughan Williams’ comforting tune.

This weekend and always, may you abound in hope!

Questions for Reflection:

  1. For you, what is the difference between wishing and hoping?
  2. What are some of your deepest hopes?

Next week: TBA

11 thoughts on “#76 – Soundings in Hope

  1. I love that picture. Is that the sky last evening? Sometimes hope is even more stunningly beautiful when it shines through clouds.

    Muriel Bechtel
    515 Langs Dr., Unit J,
    Cambridge, ON
    N3H 5E4
    Home telephone: 519-219-3344
    Cellphone: 226-338-6915

    Every sunrise brings the promise of a new beginning.


  2. Thanks so much for sharing these “soundings of hope”, Sue. You inspired me to write my own list of recent “sightings of joy”. My prayers continue for you and Sam.


  3. Hello Sue,
    Your “sightings of hope” was my meditation this morning and a much appreciated one.
    Over the years I have thought a lot about hope, the differences between hope and optimism, and ways to nurture hope.
    At one point in my life when my work in international development felt heavy and overwhelming, I spoke with a colleague, Brian Murphy of InterPares, about hope. He shared a letter he had written to an InterPares supporter who was questioning the efforts to build a more just, equitable and peace filled world given the rise of wars, refugees and a growing divide between rich and poor.
    Brian’s thoughtful letter was based on hope and offered encouragement to be open for its signs.

    “Hope is more like the air we breath than the act of breathing.” he said.

    Sue, your blog often provides signs of hope for me. Thank you. Hulene


  4. Thank you Sue for these “soundings”. As your friend mentions above, this is a helpful blog to use as
    a meditation.
    I think the hope to which I aspire & count on is somewhat mixed with a trust that in the larger picture “All will be well & all manner of things will be well”.


  5. HI Sue,

    Thanks again, for a lovely “Nourished Spirit” post. The thoughts around “Hope” took me back to my 2003 visit to Zimbabwe. One could hardly imagine a more hopeless place; little food, bare shelves in stores, scarce “petro,” frequent power outages, rampant inflation with little money available in banks, few jobs and a totally irresponsible and abusive government. But Christians kept heralding their hope in what seemed to be absolute hopelessness. That and gratitude. I will never forget the smiling gentleman who did have a job but took a leave to do airport runs, He said “I choose to be grateful.” The Mennos there were so grateful and honoured to be allowed to host the MWC global assembly, that crowds of Christian brothers and sisters came to their turf to be with them. Amazement all round!

    On another track: Our Supper Club had tagged Thursday, Oct. 4, for our next gathering. I have heard that the Brubachers want to take a little more time before deciding on joining the group. I need to check on the Balmers but I think they are also on hold. If so, it is just the old gang and we can do our usual supper thing – if you are up to it. Let’s let it ride over the weekend but if I could hear from you Monday (I’m at 50 Kent until 1:00 and quilting goes until about 4:00) and if it works for you I’ll make plans.




  6. As always, THANK YOU. Sometimes, Sue, “hope” is simply as a basic as recognizing that I am here, in this moment, now. And that that is enough. I can imagine that you might also understand that. Godspeed!

    Liked by 1 person

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