The retaining wall outside the dining room is a highway this morning. Chipmunks of all sizes scamper first one direction and then the other, tails and spirits high. A rabbit lopes along and stops to peer in. Goldfinches dart among the grasses that brush the wall, and purple martins dive at insects above them. High overhead, American Pelicans soar in formation.
This is our last morning of retreat. It has been deeply refreshing and renewing, and Bishop Joe has been a wonderful director. Today’s talk is on Hope, a beautiful place both to end and begin. Sister Stefanie reflects on it, too.
He says, “Hope is not wishful thinking. Hope is not a simplistic optimism. Hope is, to quote Walter Burkhart, SJ, desire with expectation.”
That is, we are called to see not just the negative in the world, but also the presence of grace. We need to be bearers of hope. We need to see – and share – that the light at the end of the tunnel is God waiting for us.
The fruit of that hope, Bishop Joe says, is joy. And God dwells in the midst of joy.
He asks us to ask ourselves the following questions:
Am I one who contributes to a sense of hope? Or, am I one who shoots down ideas because “we’ve tried them before, and they don’t work”? Do I gossip about others? Am I unforgiving? (To say I’m sorry or I forgive you are very hopeful words.)
Do I give hope with the simple words, Thank you? Do I behave with graciousness?
Do I give hope with deep hospitality? God is generous with us. Am I generous with others?
We are hopeful when we are prayerful. We are hopeful when we are trusting. Am I prayerful and trusting? Do I inspire prayerfulness and trust?
While hard times can push us to hope, hope does not grow in loneliness! Do I help mitigate against loneliness?
The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Hope and joy are ours to share.