It’s been tough year, which began last December with the sudden death of my son Andy and has proceeded through a violent car accident, broken bones, and several illnesses, along with physical therapy and the expectation of leg straightening surgery in the new year. All of this makes you wonder about things and the world.
Now, everyone knows about Pandora’s Box, (which is actually a mistranslation of the original Greek and should read “Pandora’s Jar,” but the essence of the story remains the same): The box (jar) contains all evil, and when opened, that evil spills out into the world of man – all, that is, except hope. Now why would hope be in a jar of evil things? Is it because hope, in and of itself, may be considered an evil thing? Hope without the possibility of fulfillment is certainly a cruel thing to consider. Yet, the very essence of hope is the possibilities it presents. Hope is not an idealistic concept but a very real, almost palpable, feeling of the human psyche. It wells up from the soul, and, in some people, can overflow that well, spilling into the soul-wells of others. These are the people who bring hope to the world.
To be such a person is a good thing, and good things are what hope is about. Now, like the misunderstanding of “jar” as “box,” there is a misunderstanding of good things. Many people believe good things need the external validation of plaques and testimonials, or at least the abundant thank-yous of those helped, but this is incorrect. We need only our own validation that we have done a good thing. We need only to attempt to do the right thing at a given time, and then go on our way. Remind me sometime to explain why the story of the “Good Samaritan” is so very often misunderstood and very underrated as a learning tool.
Sometimes just being there for others is a good thing – a thing of hope. Sometimes just getting out of bed is a good thing. There are those who look forward to tomorrow, but you must remember that tomorrow never really comes; for when it reaches us, it is today, and today is when we need hope the most. Just this morning I encountered a friend who seemed dispirited. She spoke of a lack of hope. Now, I didn’t pry into the reason for this discouragement, but I did try to offer a word or two that things will always be better depending on how we consider them. That doesn’t mean that every cloud has a silver lining. There are some really nasty storms out there, but, as storms do, they will pass. So also it is with tribulation. And the nice thing about the Christmas season – oh yes, don’t forget that! – is that it is a season, not just a day. It is the season of the expectation of new beginnings. A season of hope.