all of the selves we Have ever been
Hope and Longing
More than 78,000 servicemen
went missing during World War II.
Too many families were left to wonder.
One mother received the news that her son’s plane went down over the mountains of Europe. Neither the plane nor his body was ever recovered. For the rest of her life, that mother never moved from the house where she first received the news, and she never again locked the doors in case her beloved son should find his way home.
Some people might say this mother lived in a state of denial. Maybe a doctor or therapist diagnosed her with complicated bereavement, unresolved grief or depression. Over time, others may have grown frustrated at her unwillingness to accept the “truth” and at her foolishness in leaving the doors unlocked. Many people may have given up on her, getting on with their lives, and leaving that mother alone with her wishful thinking and her grief.
But the story speaks to me of love, the deep, abiding kind of love that does not end. It is spiritual in nature. I cannot but join her in hope that love might win and bring her boy back through that open door even though I know his return is unlikely.
Though the longing hurts, it says that love has lived in a heart now torn by loss. Longing is a terrible itch and an aching tear; hope is the salve and the suture.
There are plenty of gashes in me mended by the thread of hope. I have spent more than a few hours of my life negotiating with God, trying to get Him to see things my way, offering bargains. Some folks call those silent conversations prayer. Others call them denial. Perhaps they are a display of hope, a positive emotion that springs up in the face of fear and uncertainty.
In the Greek myth, after Pandora opened the box releasing evil and disease into the world, only hope remained. Sometimes hope is the only tool remaining in our tool boxes, too. Employing it does not mean that we are silly or stupid.
G. K. Chesterton wrote that “hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances we know to be desperate.” That kind of hope gives us the will and the courage to fight evil in the world and the determination and ingenuity to conquer disease.
So, let us stand with all those whose hearts are filled with longing, and leave our doors open for hope.
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