People in our denomination are sometimes reluctant to speak of hope. When we pray, we are supposed to be certain that our prayer will be answered. Over the years, I’ve heard many experts say, “We don’t hope for a desired outcome. We know.”
What if we don’t know?
Early on, in the U.S. onslaught of COVID-19, I spoke in a global conference call. There I spoke about not knowing. “COVID-19 challenges our assumptions about certainties in life. Now we don’t know what is going to happen and that messes with us.”
Acknowledging uncertainty does not negate hope. Uncertainty can be a paradox that inspires hope as it calls us to create a new relationship with the typically rejected inevitabilities of life. We learn to respect the fog of uncertainty, while trusting the sun shining beneath it.
The other day, a church member sent me a meditation on hope shared by Richard Rohr. Fr. Richard quotes Cynthia Bourgeault, who distinguishes ordinary hope from mystical hope. “Ordinary hope is tied to an outcome, a sense that things will get better; Mystical hope is a complete reversal of our usual way of looking at things. Beneath the ‘upbeat’ kind of hope that parts the seas and pulls rabbits out of hats, this other hope weaves its way as a quiet, even ironic counterpoint.”
She continues by offering that mystical hope is meant to be “an abiding state of being,” untethered from outcome. It is a state of presence that flows from our deep connection to a well-spring of good. We dwell within hope while becoming a vessel, a chalice into which this divine energy can pour; a lamp through which it can shine.” (See this link to read the entire meditation).
One could say that mystical hope sustains a positive faith in Reality, even when our opinion doesn’t understand what is happening. Mystical hope hopes in the life force that welcomes the fog and the sun. Mystical hope sees everything as essential aspects of being that sometimes remain just outside of intellectual certainty.
I’m not going to pull a rabbit out of a hat. (In our house, given the girth of our Rabbit, that would surely cause a charley horse). Instead, I’ll surrender to mystical hope. How about you?