Living in hope is not as easy as it sounds. When Paul includes ‘hope’ in the triad of virtues that remain long after all else has passed away, I don’t think that he was meaning “I hope that I win the lottery”, or “I hope that things go well for me”. To live in hope is to understand that the darkness we experience is inextricably bound up with “that Light which shineth”. If we truly embrace the unshakeable truth that “God is ONE”, and that He “forms light and CREATES darkness”, then the dark nights of the soul become as vital to our ongoing holy relationship as the mountain-top experiences that the Western mindset has taught us to pursue. Indeed- we as a society live in a state of spiritual and emotional anaesthesia, finding our vicarious fulfillment in the scripts that the latest theatre hit lays before us. We are trained to search externally for our ‘raison d’etre’, rather than take the painful- and sometimes surprising- inward path that leads us to the ‘still small voice’. I am constantly awed by the saints and mystics of diverse traditions who, having walked the contemplative road, find a consistent and simple rule of life that embraces both horizontal and vertical dialogue. Keeping ones heart and eye single requires the discipline of sitting attentively and listening to the heart- something that is counterintuitive to our ‘jump to action’ world. But if we listen long enough to allow the chatter of competing voices to die away, we will eventually hear the one VOICE that really counts- the ONE whose unction plants and waters the very seeds of hope that we hunger and thirst for.

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