Welcome to Wednesdays, where I use too many w’s to introduce one simple idea: there are wonderful, wise words that others have written and said. And I want to pass them on.
One card we received included an excerpt from this quote. I instantly fell in love with it.
Hope is not insane optimism in the face of palpable evil or dire circumstances. It is not the shallow attempt of well-meaning but facile friends to “cheer us up” in bad times. It’s not the irritating effort of ill-at-ease counselors who work to make us “reframe” our difficulties so that everyone around us will not have to deal with them, too. No, hope is not made of denial. Hope is made of memories.
Hope reminds us that there is nothing in life we have not faced that we did not, through God’s gifts and graces-however unrecognized at the time-survive. Hope is the recall of good in the past, on which we base our expectation of good in the future, however bad the present. It digs in the rubble of the heart for memory of God’s promise to bring good out of evil and joy out of sadness and, on the basis of those memories of the past, takes new hope for the future. Even in the face of death. Even in the fear of loss. Even when our own private little worlds go to dust, as sooner or later, at length or at least a little, they always do.
In the midst of the rubble, Curtis and I decided it was right to host a dinner.
So we gathered nine very dear friends in our home. Curtis spent all morning menu planning, and settled on leg of lamb, yummy potatoes (roasted potatoes covered with butter, salt, pepper, a little garlic powder and paprika, and most importantly, a little brown sugar. Bake until edges are dark and crispy), cauliflower and salad. I took a cue from Pioneer Woman’s show that morning and created a salted caramel brownie for dessert.
Curtis and I each said something briefly before dinner, and following my family’s tradition, we sang the doxology to bless the meal and the evening. Then we gathered around the table, a makeshift combination of our regular table and chairs and a wobbly card table with folding chairs.
The food was awesome, even better because we ate off my grandma’s (pink!) depression glass. We talked mostly about light things, like TV shows and Muggle Quidditch. I realized my brain sorely needed that kind of conversation.
At the end of the night the kitchen was even cleaner than before the evening began, since everyone did the dishes. The dishes are the one thing we just can’t muster the energy for right now.
This was no dinner party. It was a night when “God’s gifts and graces” were tangible. My heart was full in a way I would never have thought possible three weeks after tragedy.
It was the beginning of joy out of sadness.