Photo by Angie Smith
When I was in the ninth grade, I read “The Great Gatsby” by F.Scott Fitzgerald and my life changed forever.
The truth is, I remember very few of the details of the story, but I do vividly recall the way my teacher soaked up every moment of teaching us how to read great literature.
While the rest of the class leaned back in their chairs and stuffed notes in each other’s backpacks, I hung on her every word, lamenting the moment the bell would ring. My notebook was filled with tidbits of knowledge, methods of analyzing stories and characters (anyone know why she was named “Daisy” in The Great Gatsby?) What had always been a great love of mine turned into a college minor and a passion that has brought me more joy than I can describe.
When my friends didn’t want to be my friends, I read.
When my first boyfriend broke up with me, I read.
When the phone rang in the middle of the night with words I never wanted to hear, I read.
There has always been a solace in words that I cannot often find in the rest of the world. I love the way the book binding creaks with years of love and the smell of yellowed pages reminds me that my grandmother once held the same book as she read to my mother.
One of my favorite authors in high school was Emily Dickinson (I’m fairly certain that’s a prerequisite), and as I learned more about her life, I was intrigued by the way life had carved a gap in her heart, just wide enough to let hope spill out.
I guess you could say I relate to that even more now.
In one of her earlier writings, Emily wrote an essay on life that contained the following poem:
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.
Maybe you noticed what I did when you read that.
It’s not always easy to trust in something that has wings.
Who’s to say it will stay?
I have always said things like, “I hope I get that job,” or “I really hope we can sell our house.” Sometimes I “hope” the weather will change, or that I can find a good deal on kid’s shoes. It’s fleeting, it’s possible, but I’m not counting on it.
I really hoped I would have Audrey in my arms.
But I don’t.
And what does that say about hope? That it took flight? Found a new perch somewhere in the unreachable sky?
The Lord doesn’t define hope the way that we do, and His definition is crucial for every one of us as we walk through this life. I am sure that as you are reading these words, you can think of a place in your life where you feel hope is lost.
The Greek word for hope is “elpizo,” and my favorite definition reads:
To wait for salvation with joy and full confidence
So, really, it isn’t about wanting some certain outcome or even longing for the desire of your heart.
It’s about waiting.
And so today I sit, fingers tapping a keyboard, children running in the grass, day slipping into night, and I do just that.
Have you ever noticed that there is really no point in hope in the absence of despair?
Will you sit with me today? Will you sit with me in my sorrow, in my regret, in my aching?
I will sit with you.
And together we will believe in the thing with feathers. We will wipe the tears away with the hand of trust and we will be confident in what awaits us.
Hopefully, arm in arm, we will hear the song together and be reminded that it was written for us.
And we will know the truth about hope…
It never stops singing.
~Incidentally, her name was “Daisy” because she was innocent and pure (white) on the outside, but weak and cowardly (yellow) on the inside.
I want to be more than that.
I want to love Him all the way through my being, and trust Him with everything I have. Don’t you?
Come and sit with me, friend.
Speak, Lord. Your servants are listening…