People are using a lot of coping mechanisms to get through these days. For writer Jan Larson, it’s hope, faith, and love.
Today, March 24th, is my birthday. I could joke and claim the whole of Wisconsin shut down in celebration. Dancing in the streets to follow. But that wouldn’t be true. #SaferAtHome.
Instead, I’ll tell you that I woke with a singular word rolling around in my head: Hope.
I’ve been thinking about that word a lot lately. I even looked it up. To be sure. To remind myself. So I could hold its meaning in the close of my hand:
Hope — Expectation.
Hope did not come at my bidding. A friend and colleague had placed it like a farmer planting a seed. The head of a local writing group (and much more), he challenged his neighbors to use this time of unexpected slowness to share stories of hope. He did it to encourage community. He’s like that.
As I lay in bed unwilling to acknowledge the white-gray sky and the dirt-flecked snow of March receding into the pine trees that line our property, I glanced up and smiled. Above our bedroom closet, I had as a young mother stenciled three clusters of pansies in shades of blue, yellow, violet and red – one bouquet for each of the three children I didn’t know we’d have but hoped for. The stenciled art was an attempt to remind me of the spring that would follow the long Wisconsin winters. I don’t often remember they are there, but today, they greeted me with the promise of spring.
These delicate flowers made me hope for more than the blooms that spring invariably brings. I hope for, I expect, a time when the distance will fade and the virtual hugs we send our now young adult children will be replaced with open arms and heads nestled close to our heart.
It’s a word that works well with others. I can’t think of hope without bumping into Faith.
Like the ivy that twists its way through the pansies on my wall, these words are linked. It’s my heritage. The legacy from my pastor father who spent his adult life tramping through cotton fields among migrant farmworkers and later city barrios to proclaim hope. My mother, an equal partner, his confidante and counselor had a depth of faith that sustained her in her middle years and beyond when she struggled with illness that threatened her hold on reality.
Faith: complete trust or confidence
After my parents died in a car accident some years ago, one of my siblings sent me the Bibles they had carried with them. My mother’s constant companion sat by my nightstand for more than a year before I could bring myself to open it. When I unzipped the fabric cover, bits of twig and leaves – remnants of the crash that had somehow worked their way into cracks and crevices – fell from its pages.
The inside front covers bore her beautiful, precise handwriting and a long list of favored verses. Verses of faith, hope and love. Verses that she shared with me as a child when others ridiculed and rejected me. As I re-read them, I was reminded of the hope, of the expectation, that someday, there would be love.
Love…well, we recognize it when see it.
I found that love in the eyes of man who has been my partner, confidante, counselor and friend for more than 30 years. His love is more than a feeling. It is a choice, a daily act on his part to be that person who loves me unconditionally.
As I face the final year of my fifth decade, a time of great uncertainty for the entire planet, I am able to draw on a lifetime of Faith…certain belief. Hope…expectation. And love…the greatest of these.
Together, they will allow me to weather the storm that has engulfed us all. I hope the same for you.
MUSIC: “Rainbow Chaser” by Isato Nakagawa
“Here Comes The Sun” by Richie Havens