This is the first of thirty-some Reasons to Hope that I am writing from the driver’s seat of my car, parked in a hotel lot in Delaware. I am here for a funeral and the family is inside, getting their things together. The devil is in the details as they say and the details compound — no room in the inn for late arriving funeral guests, only cold showers for an understaffed overstuffed hotel, a wedding in the lobby as we took the glass elevators down in our black dresses, witnessing the vows. How many moments make up a life? And how often do we mistake the moments for less than what they are, for inconveniences or obstacles or reasons to throw up our hands and say it is not what we had hoped it would be.
Indeed, it is rarely what we hoped it would be.
But sometimes… it is more than we could have imagined — a newborn squeezing your hand, a toddler buoyed by her father on her first swim, the oldest going off to school and coming home to make us proud, that night on a family camping trip where we stood in awe of the vast expanse of the galaxy and the deep wonder of our love. These are big moments made up of so many small fleeting glimpses of life. And even in death there is life.
The funeral was one of the best I’ve attended, a testament to the man over whose ashes we were speaking prayers of love. There were several memories shared thoughtfully, expansively, for this man had lived a long and abundant life. A devout Christian, a lover of the natural world, a professor of Shakespeare, an author, a poet, a father, a husband, a friend. He was an avid runner all his life, known for winning most of the races he ran, he made many a friend of his competitors. He started a legendary running club that would meet by a creek he loved so much he fought for it to be preserved. His love for God’s creation lit him up inside and he quite naturally shared his awe and wonder with his dear ones.
His family is a testament to legacy, to what a life well lived can offer the world.
No matter what our religious background, what our relationship to faith, there is an ongoing question which requires our constant response — will we let our lives be stolen from us, slowly, sometimes unknowingly, moment by moment missing the moment, or will we show up for the moments, even the difficult ones, especially the difficult ones. It is ours to determine. But God built us to LIVE. To feel all the feels, to dance, to mourn, to rejoice, to suffer, to help each other find our way back home. This is why hope is more than a pithy message on a sympathy card. It’s a way to live well and to die well. All of it a miracle, all of it a gift.
Writing the Book of Hope
We’ve been writing the Book of Hope together for 41 weeks now, but it’s never too late to join us. Here’s all you need to get started.