A Thought on Hope- Esther Ou

Last Friday at our final formation time, Dennis shared a poem on hope as we reflected on this past year.

Rubem Alves: Hope

What is hope?

It is a presentiment that imagination is more real

and reality less real

than it looks.

It is a hunch that the overwhelming brutality of facts

that oppress and repress

is not the last word.

It is a suspicion that reality is more complex

than realism wants us to believe

and that the frontiers of the possible are not determined

by the limits of the actual

and that in a miraculous and unexpected way

life is preparing the creative events

which will open the way to freedom and resurrection . . .

The two, suffering and hope, live from each other.

Suffering without hope produces resentment and despair,

hope without suffering creates illusions, naiveté, and drunkenness . . .

Let us plant dates

even though those who plant them will never eat them.

We must live by the love of what we will never see.

This is the secret discipline.

It is a refusal to let the creative act be dissolved

in immediate sense experience

and a stubborn commitment to the future of our grandchildren.

Such disciplined love is what has given

prophets, revolutionaries and saints

the courage to die for the future they envisaged.

They make their own bodies the seed of their highest hope.

Hope often takes on many colors, sometimes appearing elusive or insincere. When in a dark and difficult time, hope can hold no meaning. But I think I’ve learned a bit about hope in the past few years of my life, especially while hiking.

  1. Hope usually goes against our need for instantaneous gratification.
  2. It has a mentality, and is more often than not accompanied by struggle.
  3. It is being patient with the current reality while moving forward.
  4. Hope is a reminder that this current state is not the end.

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If you know my roommate George, he is the type never to choose an easy hike. He seeks out the toughest ones, with a level “hard” attached. I recall the hikes where we could see mountains beyond mountains, the hikes where we passed through multiple “false summits” before we reached the peak, the hikes where my joints ached for days at the steepness of the climb. It is those climbs where hope is embodied and manifested. The thing about living near a mountain range is that there’s always another mountain. Literally. Another summit. Another challenge.

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When you reach the top, you feel the high of victory, the speechlessness of beauty. Every pinnacle, no matter how seemingly small, is a victory– a view to appreciate, an exercise in patience.  However, the journey there is not flat. The majority of any hike is trekking up the mountain….just to trek it right back down. It is being tired and in pain, and we endure that struggle because each step is a step forward towards a new height. At times, easier. At other times, harder.

That is the hope that we must seek and live out — with our personal demons, in our fight towards justice, everything.

 

One Broken Thumb-Up: Veronica Farrell

Two weeks ago one of those things happened that you really don’t expect to happen. I broke a bone. My thumb to be exact. My right thumb if we’re going to get really specific. I broke it at swim practice. Now, before you all start thinking “how on earth do you break a bone swimming,” I broke it against the wall on a butterfly finish.

Yes, I am right handed. Yes, writing left-handed has been a challenge. No, I don’t know how long I’ll be in this brace. Yes, it hurts – a lot.

Life does not stop during a service year. I’ve never been so far from home and even though I absolutely love it out here in Colorado, it’s tough when life just keeps on happening. Besides breaking a thumb just under two months out from the end of this program when job and apartment hunting are stressing me (anybody have connections with a job opening?), two days later I got jalapeno juice on my face and spent 10 minutes soaking it in a bowl of milk. My car has broken down twice. Walgreens has failed to fill all three of my prescriptions on time at least once, one of them two times. Denver Health did not get me seen within my two week referral window and gave me misleading information, sending me back to urgent care for resources I was told I could no longer receive upon my arrival. Life happens, right? Excuse me, shit happens.

I love to be active and independent and this broken thumb is seriously getting in the way. Even though the rest of my fingers are fine, I still can’t grip anything and I have a brace that goes ¾ of the way up my forearm. I can’t use a can opener. I have to cross my left arm over in my car to start the engine. Bags have to be opened with my teeth. I have to button pants and blouses with one hand. If I’m using my good hand to hold something, I can’t open a door. I can’t properly scrub the left side of my body in the shower. And much, much more.

It’s been a bummer, but I’m so grateful to be living in a community that supports me. My roommates have put my hair up, brought me water, fed me medication, researched ways to cure jalapeno juice burns, and even clipped my fingernails. This experience has also made me even more aware of my privileges. Despite being college-educated the health care system is extremely frustrating and circuitous. I’m incredibly fortunate to have the time to make calls to clear up information and have helpful conversations with medical professionals. Program Director Rebecca Crummey has checked up on me numerous times and my supervisor has made sure to emphasize I can take time off. Not many individuals have bosses that demonstrate such a level of concern.

Now that I’m out of college, “life” is no longer just a pushed up deadline, last minute reading assignment, surprise short answer quiz, or keynote speaker cancellation. Suddenly, in this year far away from home, not only am I working my first 9 to 5 living in a house with people who used to be total strangers, I’m dealing with some new “life” circumstances. The past two weeks, I’ve been reminded often of meeting people where they are. Life happens. It happens a lot and it’s not always fun. Think twice before making a judgement on someone’s situation or how they’re handling it!

Rediscovery and Lessons learned

Hello again folks. I bring to you my next to last blog for Colorado ESC. What is there to talk about? What happened? What’s new? Well, you know soon. But for now, let me begin as to where I am right this moment.

I am currently in Birmingham, AL on vacation. Now unless you are going to the beach in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach Alabama may not be everyone’s first choice. I came here to visit a friend getting married to the love of his life. It was an opportunity to see old friends, reconnect, and re-energize for the last few months of the ESC. Though my first night back in my home state was long.

I started Friday morning spending time with the members of Columba house for their Friday formation. We started the day with a 75minute hot yoga class in Golden, CO; and when I mean hot I mean that the heater was turned up to high and I am sweating from standing hot. Afterwards we had a light breakfast and then we continued the day with a tour of the Coor’s Light Brewery. After the tour we had lunch at a place called Bob’s Atomic Burgers. The funny thing about this place is that when you get your order they don’t give you a number, but a celebrity name, ours was the Little Mermaid.

After lunch and dealing with some scattered showers we drove back to the house for some chill time.

Around 2:30 I knew that I would need to hustle so that I can make my flight. I packed up my bags in my car and proceeded to drive. Something struck me as I drove to away from Denver: the state was getting flatter. I do not remember the last time I was in a very flat section of the country. I was accustomed to Mountains and cities seeing the totally flat land startled me. But I made it to the lot to drop off my car. I boarded the shuttle and off it went. Now as I was sitting in the shuttle I took note of what I forgot in my car, “shoot..oh well”. But I got off the shuttle, entered the airport and began to slowly go through the dreaded TSA Security line which was actually moving rather quickly. As I moved through the line, I remembered that I had not flown in a airport for over 2 years. But I got through and began to board the rail line to my gate. Keep this in mind, it was about 3pm when I left downtown Denver, it took me 30-45 minutes to the lot. Then there was the drive to the lot, entering the airport, going through security and the rail line. My plane began to board at 5:05 pm, I got there at 5. Luckily , I was called later to board so I had time for a snack.

I won’t talk about my plane ride, there is not much to that other than it was 2h 45 min flight. I arrived in Atlanta and met my Dad at baggage claim, we chatted as we walked. One of the first things I I said was that I had not been in Alabama, let alone the south, since last August where he and I began a 3 day road trip to Colorado. As soon as I said that, WHAM, instant humidity. We hopped into the car and drove about 2 hours to Birmingham. The next day, yesterday, I was preparing to clean myself up for the day the sole reason why I came back was to see this day happen. After getting a pair of pants from the store, showering and what not, my dad drove me to the wedding.

When I entered the church I instantly saw faces of people I did not see for awhile. There were fraternity brothers who showed up to the wedding, some were groomsmen, one was the best man. There was a fair turnout, and beautiful music throughout the service. Later in the service, the moment that all hopeless romantics love about weddings came for the bride and groom; the kiss. When that happened they symbolically and literally added a new chapter to their lives. I do not the origin of the relationship but I know that Michael Fisher and Maryann Lee , or I guess Fisher now, met in college. They’ve dated for a number of years and on a journey together that led to yesterday’s wedding. This is something that they both wanted for a long time. I am sure that they’ve had ups and downs, good times and bad, have been in sickness and have had good health. They are 2 people who deserve each other and a happy life. Michael, true to his faith, remained devout throughout his life, even in tragic circumstances . I am a witness to this action in faith. It is one quality I do not inherently have and that I wish I could. I do not know enough about Maryann. I do that she is strong in her faith as well and she , and Michael, is tall. I know about her through Michael, and I do not remember everything he told me. But the point is that these two individuals, this one couple, exemplify qualities I aspire to. Maybe I can turn aspiration into reality, but I need to get through this next month first.

So what other takeaways do I have from the weekend? What is next in my life? What will I be doing? Well you’re going to have to wait until my last blog, which coincidentally is on the last day of the ESC program. I look forward to writing this next blog. See you then!