"Hope" has come up a lot this year, through Obama's successful presidential campaign but also through the realization that we live in times when hope is a necessary quality to get us through what some have called "The Long Emergency" -- this time when so many environmental, economic, and political realities are colliding.
I am suspicious of hope when it comes in its 'lite' form. But true, deep hope is a real gift. This holiday season I'd like to share with you my take on hope and reasons for it, expanding from my little life out into the big world that we all share.
* The hope that comes from sharing our truth and staying connected/interconnected. This year, I discovered the world of blogging and started my own blog-- you're readin' it now! I love the way it gives me a place to express myself in words and pictures, and to stay in touch with old friends and make new ones. Please become a "Kindred Spirit" (see the sidebar on the right top of the page).
* The hope that comes through change and movement. After years of imagining this possibility, I shifted my life from California to New Mexico this year. My intention in doing so was to live on a smaller, simpler scale and yet to still be in a place of awe-inducing beauty. Now I live in Santa Fe, where each morning I am greeted by mountains, chamisa, pinion, and mapgies. There are many times when I miss my dear friends in California and the Pacific ocean, but it feels right to be here in the high desert for now. Many of you have made big transitions in your lives as well, and this inspires me greatly. And if you find yourself traveling in or through NM this next year, let me know -- I love visitors!
* The hope that comes from deepening commitment. This November, after years of procrastination, I finally received jukai (Buddhist precepts) at San Francisco Zen Center. A lot of energy gets freed up by committing to something. I'm still in the process of understanding what that means in the context of meditation and Buddhist practice (and probably will for my whole life), and I wonder how this translates for each of you in your lives.
* The hope that arises from witnessing good people doing good things in the world. I am blessed to be involved with Upaya Zen Center's Chaplaincy Program, where I watch people going into sites of suffering like hospices, prisons, and even the federal government and offering the gift of presence and insight. And there are so many other venues where this is happening. Such a simple thing, yet what a profound impact this can make.
* The hope that is inspired by noticing that more people are getting involved in their world. This was most evident in Obama's win in the presidential election -- thank goddess! -- but I can see it happening in other places too. Maybe that's the upside of things having gotten so bad the last 8 years. It becomes more clear that we are the ones we are waiting for, to quote Alice Walker. Last week I saw the movie "Milk" -- highly recommended -- and this was another reminder of how great change begins with one person, one neighborhood, one relationship at a time.
May you and your loved ones enjoy a holiday season full of love, warmth, and peaceful times, and may we find places of resilient hope throughout the coming year.
-- Arundhati Roy