Tag Archives: hope

From the morning watch until night.

PSALM 129

Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord;
O Lord, hear my voice.

Let Thine ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplication.

If Thou shouldest mark iniquities,
O Lord, O Lord, who shall stand?
For with Thee there is forgiveness.

For Thy name’s sake
have I patiently waited for Thee, O Lord;
my soul hath waited patiently for Thy word,
my soul hath hoped in the Lord.

From the morning watch until night,
from the morning watch let Israel hope in the Lord.

For with the Lord there is mercy,
and with Him is plenteous redemption,
and He shall redeem Israel
out of all his iniquities.

 

Let them fall down.

O Lord, guide me in the way of Thy righteousness;
because of mine enemies,
make straight my way before Thee,
for in their mouth there is no truth;
their heart is vain.

Their throat is an open sepulchre,
with their tongues have they spoken deceitfully;
judge them, O God.

Let them fall down on account of their own devisings;
according to the multitude of their ungodliness,
cast them out, for they have embittered Thee, O Lord.

And let all them be glad that hope in Thee;
they shall ever rejoice, and Thou shalt dwell among them.
And all shall glory in Thee that love Thy name,
for Thou shalt bless the righteous.

O Lord, as with a shield of Thy good pleasure
has Thou crowned us.

-from Psalm 5

 

 

 

Hope is not a program for reform.

What is the difference between optimism and hope? One difference is that the word “optimism” is not in the Bible, and the word “hope” is. They are two distinct words and at least one of them is worth contemplating. I like to quote Fr. Alexander Schmemann on this topic:

“If there are two heretical words in the Christian vocabulary, they would be ‘optimism’ and ‘pessimism.’ These two things are utterly anti-biblical and anti-Christian…. Our faith is not based on anything except on these two fundamental revelations: God so loved the world, and: The fallen world has been secretly, mysteriously redeemed.”

Hope is one of the three foundational virtues of the Christian life, as this article, “Hope,” explains. Its description of the absence of hope tells us:

“The opposite of hope is despondency and despair. According to the spiritual tradition of the Church, the state of despondency and despair is the most grievous and horrible condition that a person can be in. It is the worst and most harmful of the sinful states possible for the soul.”

That’s why the title of an article in the current issue of The New Atlantis got my attention: “How Tech Despair Can Set You Free” by Samuel Matlack.

The author of this article discusses the philosophy of Jacques Ellul, and quotes him as saying, in Hope in Time of Abandonment, “You cannot talk about hope. The question is how to live it.”

Jacques Ellul, 1912-1994

Matlack comments, “The reason you cannot talk about hope — or rather, cannot describe the action it takes — is this: Hope is not a program for reform, a solution to implement, or a prescription to follow. To borrow from the farmer and writer Wendell Berry, hope means ‘work for the present,’ whereas optimism means ‘making up a version of the future.'”

“What we do know is that Ellul’s own life bears ample testimony to hope. Here is one episode of many. Having lost his university position during the Nazi occupation of France, Ellul and his wife Yvette settled on a farm in a small village near the demarcation line, opening their door to Resistance fighters and Russians escaping German prison camps. With the help of neighbors — since Ellul knew nothing about farming — he grew potatoes and corn, with his wife raising chickens. As he once told the story, “I spent most of my time helping people get across into the free French zone. I was in cahoots with an organization that dealt in forged papers. So I was able to provide a whole series of people with forged identity cards.’”

About their own aims the editors of the journal from which I quote write: “Dystopian dread is the shadow of utopian dreams. The hope of The New Atlantis is to help steer away from both — and instead toward a culture in which science and technology work for, not on, human beings.”

In another article on this general subject, of how to live in a technological age, Alan Jacobs wrote in last winter’s issue; he also mentions Jacques Ellul as one of the early critics of the technological society in “From Tech Critique to Ways of Living.” It is accessible to read right now. And Samuel Matlack has written previously about Ellul, in 2014: “Confronting the Technological Society.”

There he writes, after Ellul: “What is needed is a true revolution, which Christianity by its essence is uniquely equipped to effect — being in the world but not of it, living the hope of a kingdom already here but not yet.”

True revolution is not a change in the political order, but has to be something far beyond that realm, and deeper; may the Lord show us the basis for our true Hope, and teach us how to live it.

Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and shield.
Yea, our hearts are glad in Him, because we trust in His holy name.
Let Thy steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in Thee.

-Psalm 33

Night has gone like a sickness.

At this time of year when nights grow longer, and we can’t get rid of them soon enough in the mornings, now it is, for some reason, that I want to share this poem I’ve been mulling over, about night being gone altogether. Oh, wouldn’t it be lovely to live where bell songs would visit your garden at the break of day?

FOUR POEMS IN ONE

At six o’clock this morning
I saw the rising sun
Resting on the ground like a boulder
In the thicket back of the school,
A single great ember
About the height of a man.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Night has gone like a sickness,
The sky is pure and whole.
Our Lady of Poland spire
Is rosy with first light,
Starlings above it shatter their dark flock.
Notes of the Angelus
Leave their great iron cup
And slowly, three by three
Visit the Polish gardens round about,
Dahlias shaggy with frost
Sheds with their leaning tools
Rosebushes wrapped in burlap
Skiffs upside down on trestles
Like dishes after supper.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

These are the poems I’d show you
But you’re no longer alive.
The cables creaked and shook
Lowering the heavy box.
The rented artificial grass
Still left exposed
That gritty gash of earth
Yellow and mixed with stones
Taking your body
That never in this world
Will we see again, or touch.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

We know little
We can tell less
But one thing I know
One thing I can tell
I will see you again in Jerusalem
Which is of such beauty
No matter what country you come from
You will be more at home there
Than ever with father or mother
Than even with lover or friend
And once we’re within her borders
Death will hunt us in vain.

-Anne Porter