We feel optimistic, or we feel pessimistic. Now, hope is different in that it is based not on the ephemerality of feelings but on the firm ground of conviction. I believe with a steadfast faith that there can never be a situation that is utterly, totally hopeless. Hope is deeper and very, very close to unshakable. . . To choose hope is to step firmly forward into the howling wind, baring one’s chest to the elements, knowing that, in time, the storm will pass . . . Hope is also nurtured by relationship, by community, whether that community is a literal one or one fashioned from the long memory of human striving . . . Despair turns us inwards. Hope sends us into the arms of others.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, p. 122, The Book of Joy
We are reading The Book of Joy by The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in my weekly School for Contemplative Living meeting. The above quote resonated with me in my recovery from alcoholism and recent cancer diagnosis.
In recovery, I consider myself a “glass is half-full” person who aspires to live into the solution and not the problem. For the most part, that is true since I walked into a detox center a bunch of years ago. But I realize that my outlook has evolved over the years. Perhaps some 20 years ago, the concept of hope entered more into my daily life. In my gratitude lists, hope is always included. In liturgical worship, when the congregation is invited to speak their gratitudes my list is “life, my spouse, and hope” and quite consistently.
The Archbishop’s quote solidifies in my mind what hope is in my sobriety. After a time in recovery, I came to know and have faith that with the 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, I could remain sober. I know that today to the marrow of my bones. I have had no desire to use alcohol or drugs in over three decades. Today, not drinking or drugging is the easy part of recovery.
Hope comes through living life on life’s terms or “practicing these principles in all our affairs” as noted in the 12th Step. For me, that road in sobriety has never been a linear path, but I do hope that my overall direction will continue forward.
My recent cancer diagnosis brings another dimension to the understanding of hope. Although I certainly do hope that my cancer will not progress, my faith is that if I do the next indicated step, use the many tools at my disposal, I will continue to live fully and take advantage of the opportunity to make choices every day in how I choose to live. That is my hope today. My time as a recovering alcoholic has shown me that in community I can have that faith and not wallow alone in despair.
I am blessed and life is good.