I have always loved words like Joy and Peace but recently the word Hope has come to me again and again.
“Hope is a waking dream.,” wrote Aristotle, and maybe from that I assumed hope was a weak word, something that could alight like a bird but then equally take flight like a bird. Too iffy for me.
But I have always loved this quote from the former Czech president and playwright, Vaclav Havel:
“Hope is an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”
That, it turns out, is close to what Thomas Aquinas meant when he wrote about Hope. Aquinas studied all of the virtues, Faith, Hope, Charity…etc. and when he described hope he said “Hope is located in the will.” Which means that he believed that hope is a choice; that we make a decision to have hope. Having hope is within our will, within our choice.
Because of his belief about hope, Aquinas also said that there are two sins against hope. They are despair—having no hope—or making the choice to not hope, and interestingly, he said that the other sin against hope is presumption—the stance that, “I can do this myself.”
Isn’t that fascinating? Doesn’t it resonate with “Made a decision…” and “Our will and our life.” It’s a choice. Not dependent on mood or emotion or circumstances. Hmmmmm. And it is also giving up ego, “I can do this myself.”
So here is what I am doing with hope this week: I am practicing gratitude as much of the day as I can. I am teaching my will. It seems that a life of gratitude is oriented toward hope. Practicing gratitude is a way to teach the will to choose hope.