Thankful Thursday: Hope

The other night I attended a beautiful hour of poems and songs in candlelight.

It was a Taize service and just a handful of us assembled in the small church. The evening felt cavernous, as though we were each orphaned and unknown, gathered on the darkest night to fish for light. Everything hushed and reverent. Every voice low and slow. 

There was no sermon. No preaching. Just prayer and reflection, words and tune. The service centered on the four components of Advent: Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. For each, a candle was lit, a prayer offered, a song sung, and a poem shared.

There is much joy in this season but it never fails to bring tears, too. Maybe it is simply the season, the short days, the long nights, this time of birth and promise that also carries weight, history, responsibility. Sometimes it is the singing of Silent Night, or the Christmas tree shining with light. Maybe it is the quietude that urges internalization, asks What can I give?

The service this week was quiet and peaceful. Days later I am thinking of the simple prayer that struck me most: Grant us the courage to hope, and the poem that followed:


It hovers in dark corners

before the lights are turned on, 

it shakes sleep from its eyes 

and drops from mushroom gills, 

it explodes in the starry heads 

of dandelions turned sages, 

it sticks to the wings of green angels 

that sail from the tops of maples.    

It sprouts in each occluded eye 

of the many-eyed potato, 

it lives in each earthworm segment 

surviving cruelty, 

it is the motion that runs the tail of a dog, 

it is the mouth that inflates the lungs 

of the child that has just been born.   

It is the singular gift 

we cannot destroy in ourselves, 

the argument that refutes death, 

the genius that invents the future, 

all we know of God.   

It is the serum which makes us swear 

not to betray one another; 

it is in this poem, trying to speak. 

 — Lisel Mueller


On this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for the quiet hours to still the mind and mine the heart. I am thankful for the courage to hope.

It's Thankful Thursday! Gratitude. Appreciation. Praise. Please join me in a weekly pause to appreciate people, places & things.