Friday, September 22, 2017

Hope is the thing with Pandora's Box

Hope is the thing with feathers, photo by K L Wood, author
In my recently completed Middle Grade novel, Zephyr Stone and the Moon Mist Ghost, I refer to the ancient Greek legend of Pandora's Box. You may remember that Pandora was so overcome by curiosity of a forbidden box that she opened it and let loose all manner of evil upon the world. She slammed it shut but, listening to a sweeter cry from within the box, she opened it again, and out flew Hope. Thank goodness! This set me to pondering about the nature of Hope.

As we witness worldwide disasters, both natural (hurricanes and earthquakes,) and unnatural (the atrocities against the Rohingya people of Myanmar,) I wonder at the resilience of the human spirit. How can people survive such devastation and live on? Is it merely a survival instinct that pushes us forward?

I believe it is the concept of Hope.
Hope, the quality sitting between Faith and Love in 1 Corinthians 13:13.
Hope, as Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, expresses, “is the struggle of the soul, breaking loose from what is perishable, and attesting her eternity.” And from Miguel de Cervantes, creator of that ever hopeful character, Don Quixote, “The phoenix hope, can wing her way through the desert skies, and still defying fortune's spite; revive from ashes and rise.”
Final Gifts, photo of author's mother and daughter by K L Wood

Of course Hope is empty and fruitless without the inner strength and determination to truly believe in it so much that we do the hard work, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual, to move forward. Facing our own death may seem the ultimate hopeless situation, but I saw Hope in my mother’s eyes as she spent her last earthly days with us last Christmas. She had Hope in her future, even though it was a future for which she had no physical proof. Through a lifetime of experience she had done the hard work of anchoring her Faith in things sometimes unseen. Her Hope had a strong foundation.

How can we find Hope in the televised reports of lives torn apart by the ravages of storms and the person-to-person inhumane treatment of others? When we can help, we help. Volunteering our time, giving of our resources, educating the public. These all give strength to Hope and stir it in our own souls. But there are times we cannot give aid and must look on helplessly. Where is the Hope? One of my favorite quotes on this subject is from Fred Rogers, known for his beloved
Fred Rogers, 1960s, (photo in Public Domain)
children’s television program, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ ” We find Hope in the selfless acts of strangers.

One of my favorite things in life is watching the myriad of birds that flock to our birdfeeders. Birds of all kinds, sharing the sunflower seeds, feeding their young, singing their songs. In the sunlight, in the rain, in the snows of winter, these stalwart little creatures press on with the business of life and I am reminded of a poem by Emily Dickinson:

Hope is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson, photo by K L Wood, author
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all,
And sweetest, in the gale, is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.

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