"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tunes without the words, and never stops at all." Emily DickinsonAdvent has been called the season of hope and rightfully so since it is the season in which one prepares mentally and spiritually for the coming of Jesus in Christmas. But what is hope in a non Christian context? What is hope at its core?
Hope I believe is the aspiration or belief in something that is better than the present reality. Think about it for a minute...
A person who continues to work that job he/she hates works because somewhere in their mind there is a belief that things will get better one day. Or how about a New York Mets fan who despite no encouraging prospects for the 2012 season still roots for the team on the hope that someday they will return to their 1986 glory. Or how about that parent of a wayward child who hopes that one day their child will wake up and begin to live a decent, honorable life. Or how about Victor Frankel, a concentration camp survivor who hoped that one day he would be free and live to tell about the horrors of Nazism. Or how about Nelson Mandela who spent 27 years in prison who hoped that one day he would be free to unite his country.
In all of these examples each of these people were able to get through their adversities by hoping in a better future that was not yet realized. As Christians we have the greatest hope that there can be. We believe that after the trials of this life, if we have lived a life of virtue and humble obedience to the Church we will meet Christ in heaven and be forever joyful. For a non Christian hope might be the knowledge that through suffering adversity the lives of future generations will be one day greatly enriched.
Ultimately hope is strength of mind, hope is courageous, hope is resilient, hope is inherently optimistic, hope defies and conquers all adversity.
So I would like to end with one of my favorite quotes from the movie The Shawshank Redemption, "...hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."