Hope Springs Eternal
I have many sacred places I go to refresh my spirit. Some are simple and serene, others spacious and grand. My favorite will soon be renewed—my garden. While this muddy, messy piece of earth hardly looks like a sacred site in early March, it slowly reveals itself as an urban sanctuary. I clear tangled stems and sodden leaves from autumn’s late blooms only to find tender shoots of this season’s new beginnings.
The rains of late March transform garden grays into riotous greens. The immediacy startles! Spring’s spirit breathes my garden into life. When I work with that spirit, we co-create beauty and celebrate bounty. I imagine the fullness of August’s abundance held in April’s green shoots. This is hope, to see beauty and wonder as yet hidden in the muck and mud of early spring. Especially after a long winter, I hunger for hope.
“Hope is a state of mind, not of the world”, according to Czech writer and philosopher, Vaclav Havel. Hope, like spring, persists even in the difficult times—not because it is easy, but because it must. The earth must burst forth with spring, even the harshest of circumstances will not crush it. So it is with hope. It cannot be snuffed out, even when all appears lost.
Margaret Gunther, in Holy Listening, tells us spiritual direction is about hope. We who companion spiritual seekers can recognize the early signs of hope like gardeners recognize nature’s signs of spring—a growing sense of freedom, a recognition of agency, a budding trust in the future. Spiritual direction nurtures hope and protects its early sprouts from predator—cynicism, despair, and fear.
Radio personality Krista Tippett, in her book Becoming Wise, says, “Hope, like every virtue, is a choice that becomes a practice that becomes spiritual muscle memory. It’s a renewable resource for moving through life as it is, not as we wish it to be.” Hope is muscular. It carries us through adversity. It trusts that a way will be made and we will walk into it.
By comparison, wishful thinking lets us off the hook. We can turn our back on adversity and let others attend to pain and difficulty. Hope steps out. Wishing stands still. Hope leans in. Wishing looks back. With hope, we stand in uncertainty and hold space for what might be. The hopeful gardener meets February’s cold spell with orders from this year’s seed catalogues. She fights winter’s persistence with detailed plans for the renewed perennial bed.
As we companion spiritual seekers, we provide a space for people to build and renew their hope muscle. Hope holds those in difficulty like seed catalogues hold me through March snows. Hope carries us, like a bridge, into the future.
April bulbs buried in fall resurrect as tulip and daffodil blossoms, early butterflies flit about, migrating warblers chant. The garden takes on a peace-filled harmony. Winter fades in memory. My garden sanctuary springs to life each growing season. I dig, weed, and plant my way in confident hope, trusting what might be. For me, spring’s hopes are eternal!
I choose hope.
Mary Lou Logsdon lives in St Paul, Minnesota, USA. She received her master’s in theology and a certificate in spiritual direction from St Catherine University. She is a gardener, spiritual director, and retreat leader. She writes a column for The Phoenix Spirit, and is an instructor in the Sacred Ground Spiritual Direction Formation Program.