One in a (half) million.


This marks the 581st Sunday morning this column has run in this newspaper. I’m approaching 500,000 words. Most weeks, the topics just appear to me. I can’t explain the process completely, but I can say that I don’t have to work hard for them. In a way, I’m constantly looking for my theme of the week. I suppose I work harder than most to be consistently open to people, their stories and their ideas.

Of course, I’m not always successful. Occasionally, the deadline looms, and I have to seek external inspiration.

This week was one of those weeks.

As I sat down to write my column, I decided to ask my 11-year-old daughter, “If you could write a newspaper column about anything, what would you write about?”

Without missing a beat, she said, “L-O-V-E.”

Then she paused and said, “No, that’s not right, Mom. When it comes right down to it, you should write about one word and one word only.”

“What’s that word?” I asked.

She turned around and looked right in my eyes and said, “Hope — that what it’s all about.”

And with that she walked out of the room. Once she went through the door, she turned back around and said, “On this one, Mom, I am wise beyond my years.”

All I could do was say, “Indeed, you are, my dear.”

Before I go any further, I’ll say that not all interactions in my home are like that.

The truth is with both daughters in the throes of adolescence, we have what seems like more than our share of bickering on a daily basis. But then, when those rare moments of an 11-year-old girl looking me in the eyes and telling me that there’s really only one thing in this world to write about — and that thing is hope. Well then, there’s really no choice in that matter. A mama’s got to write about hope.

After thinking for a while about hope, I decided that it’s one of those things that rests just beneath the surface of almost everything I do.

Maybe hope grows in the soil of forgiveness?

Without forgiveness, you can’t hope for better friends and love than you’ve had before. You can’t hope for a better you until you’ve absolved the old you. And, you can’t hope yourself past tragedy until you forgive God for what has happened.

Maybe hope grows in the soil of curiosity?

For me, there’s a direct link between curiosity and hope. Curiosity leads to opportunity. Seeking opportunity leads to being proactive or taking risks. And, maybe it’s because I’m a glass-half-full kind of gal, but taking risks to me is all about hope.

I decided to ask a few others how they define hope.

Stacey Scarce, took a pragmatic approach. She said, “Hope is knowing that so many things are outside of your control yet still wanting the best of possible outcomes or some acceptable variation.”

Sharon Falgout said, “Hope is in the fact that, if we are blessed, we are given another day to give it another try.”

Mike Bourque said, “Hope is the small light at the end of the tunnel.”

Gretchen Donham said, “Hope is the firm belief that there is a reason to go on.”

Ted Power said, “Hope is the sun setting. Dawn breaking. Opening day of baseball. The last day of school. The National Anthem. Happy birthday to you.”

Another friend sent me a quote from Vaclav Havel, one of my all-time favorite world leaders. Havel said, “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…. Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good.”

In the grand scheme of things, my daughter is right. Out of a half a million words, maybe hope is the most important one.

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