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“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
that perches in the soul
and sings the tune without the words
and never stops – at all –

This is a snippet of a poem from Emily Dickinson. I memorized the words when I was a young adult. Every once in awhile my memory returns the words to me, especially in those times when I need to be reminded of the grace-notes of hope. 
Hope. What can we say about hope in a world like ours? Is hope even real for most people anymore?

Well, here's what I believe about hope. 

I believe hope has deep roots. I believe hope is woven into our DNA. It is a birthright. I believe hope has nothing to do with whether we are optimists or pessimists; those are stances we acquire later in life. 
I believe hope dwells in us. It perches in the soul. We come into this world glistening bodies of hope. 
I believe we lose hope; we all do now and then. But we never lose the possibility of hope. And this is really important. 
Hope is a practice of persistence. I believe we hope to the very point we can hope no longer, then we hope anyway.
Hope is a practice of lament. This is the tune without the words when we can’t see hope, can’t hear it. These are often the times God is doing God’s deepest work in us, often bringing us into something more fully ourselves.  
Hope is outrageous and ordinary. We practice seeing things as they really are and hold them in tension that which is not yet seen. 
I bring you greetings of hope as we enter into Advent. May we be especially watchful for signs of hope.

Reprinted from the Prayer Bench Newsletter