Tag Archives: hope

LSS: Finding hope on Cape Fear


With two old friends and their families, we’ve spent the week on a tiny island off the coast of North Carolina. My friends and I became friends in our mid-twenties in Washington, D.C. We were young and unmarried. These women know things about me, and I about them. Getting to spend significant time with each other and have the opportunity to know each other all over again has been a gift.

We’ve spent the week near the tip of this tiny island, where a large triangular swath of sand juts into the ocean. It’s called Cape Fear — yes, like the movie. (And in the trivia department: this week I learned that Cape Fear is the fifth-oldest surviving English place name in the country. It was named in 1585 when a ship’s crew became afraid their boat would sink after it got stuck in a sandbar near the cape).

The island has no cars and is as idyllic as it gets in the American South, or just about anywhere, in my book. As one of my friends said, it has been a week to do little but focus on the simple things of life — friends, food and family. We cooked a lot and cleaned a little. We ate like kings and queens. Our biggest decisions were what time to head to the beach or if we should have ice cream or sorbet.

We threw indoor boomerangs. We sang James Taylor and Van Morrison. We danced a dance called Taco Bell. In the dark of late, late night, we waited for sea turtles to come ashore and lay their eggs. We found the Milky Way, the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper and a million more stars in a sky as dark as ink.

As our daughters learned to surf, one of my friends found a whole sand dollar. The rest of us found the sand dollar equivalent of spare change. Throughout the week, we laughed long and loud. We had plenty of time to catch up and philosophize.

With our toes in the sand, we counted the waves and our children’s bobbing heads in the water. Between regular intervals of abundant sunscreen lathering, we discussed whatever came to our minds.

By mid-week, we had covered politics, parenting and our favorite movies. We sat around the dinner table one night discussing the geographical details of our surroundings, Cape Fear specifically. We were comparing the island’s actual promontory to the nearby general region around Wilmington that has also taken the name.

One of the girls said, “I thought Cape Fear was the tip of Africa.”

“Nope, that’s the Cape of Good Hope,” several adults said in unison.

But we all understood how she got the two confused.

Hope and fear.

Emotions that play off of each other.

Emotions that drive us and so much of what we do.

Emotions that control so much of our interactions with others.

Hope is the opposite of fear. Fear is the opposite of hope.

We get to choose.

On the sands of Cape Fear, we chose hope.

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.