End-of-Year Hope

Tara C. Trapani & the Forum Team

For the last 12 months you've heard what I and certain figures (ie, Krista Tippet, May Sarton)  have to say about the increasingly important topic of Hope. So, to close out our year-long exploration, today I bring you some reflections from the rest of the Forum team.

I asked them each: What brings you Hope? What is something that gives you the spark to go on in the face of our challenging climate truths and global picture? They were welcome to write something or share a poem, image, video, or other expression. Here is what our team would like to offer you this season: 

Mary Evelyn Tucker & John Grim would like to highlight the following lines from their holiday message. Experiences such as this one help give them Hope for the future:

“On November 6-7, we joined more than 200 religious leaders in Abu Dhabi at the Pre COP 28 Global Faith Leader’s Summit.  The conference was planned by the UN Environment Programme, “Faith for Earth,” the Muslim Council of Elders, and a Ministry of the UAE. The religious leaders adopted an 'Interfaith Statement for COP28.'  We were impressed by the sincerity of the leaders and their sense of urgency about climate change. They called for a broad moral and spiritual response, affirmed by Pope Francis in his address to the delegates two weeks later at the opening of the COP in Dubai. This was the first COP that allowed religious communities to participate inside the conference area instead of simply demonstrating on the outside. Some 300 talks were given by religious leaders and laity to highlight the challenges to both people and planet. While the final document of the COP conference was disappointing to many as it merely indicated 'transitioning away from fossil fuels.' Yet, for others, this phrase pointed towards progress in containing global warming.  The good news for us is that the moral dimensions of climate change are integrated into the science and policy discussions.”

Elizabeth McAnally, our newsletter editor and website managershares this image:

Sam King, Forum associate and Journey outreach, shares the following quotes (in which we see a similar perspective to that of Vaclav Havel that we shared back in August) to express his thoughts on Hope:

Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.”
-Thomas Merton 

“I am quite confident that even as the oceans boil, and the hurricanes beat violently against our once safe shores, and the air sweats with the heat of impending doom, and our fists protest the denial of climate justice, that there is a path to take that has nothing to do with victory or defeat: a place we do not yet know the coordinates to; a question we do not yet know how to ask. The point of the departed arrow is not merely to pierce the bullseye and carry the trophy: the point of the arrow is to sing the wind and remake the world in the brevity of flight. There are things we must do, sayings we must say, thoughts we must think, that look nothing like the images of success that have so thoroughly possessed our visions of justice. May this new decade be remembered as the decade of the strange path, of the third way, of the broken binary, of the traversal disruption, the kairotic moment, the posthuman movement for emancipation, the gift of disorientation that opened up new places of power, and of slow limbs. May this decade bring more than just solutions, more than just a future—may it bring words we don't know yet, and temporalities we have not yet inhabited. May we be slower than speed could calculate, and swifter than the pull of the gravity of words can incarcerate. And may we be visited so thoroughly, and met in wild places so overwhelmingly, that we are left undone. Ready for composting. Ready for the impossible. Welcome to the decade of the fugitive.”
-Bayo Akomolafe

Sam Mickey, host of our Spotlights podcast, has this to say about Hope:

I often come back to what St. Paul says in Romans 4:18. “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations.” It's about hoping when there's no reason to hope, a hope that blooms like the rose of the mystical poet Angelus Silesius: “The rose is without 'why'; it blooms simply because it blooms. It pays no attention to itself, nor does it ask whether anyone sees it.” John Caputo sums it up in Hoping Against Hope (Fortress Press, 2015). “Hope hovers over us like a ghost, whispering in our ears impossible things, waking us with a start in the night. Hope is a spirit, the aspiration, the very respiration of God’s spirit, of God’s insistence, which groans to exist. Hope dares to say ‘come,’ dares to pray ‘come,’ to what it cannot see coming. Hope is hope in the promise of the world, inscribed on the surface of matter in a distant corner of the universe, in a rose that blossoms unseen, blossoming because it blossoms, without why” (p. 199).

Anna Thurston, Forum associate and UNEP liaison, responded with the following poem by Maya Angelou. Read the full text here

And you get one last offering from me (Tara C. Trapani, Administrator) on this topic. This image means a lot of different things to those of us who grew up with it as an essential and meaningful part of the childhood holiday experience. To me it says that my joy, my celebration, my connection, my Hope is not dependent on outside circumstances. This is so beautifully expressed by Thich Nhat Hanh: “Nothing is as important as my peace, my joy. I smile to everything, even to my suffering. Smile and release. This is the practice of freedom.” And if we could all find a way to experience and stay in that place of freedom—to give ourselves that peace and joy regardless of the workings of the outer world—how nourished we would all be and how better able to nourish others and our planet. I'm still working on it. But this image, this scene, this spark planted in childhood makes it actually feel possible. 


Wishing you a joyful 2024 filled with love, light, and Hope. 
~The Forum Team