Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Not-so-Ironic Advent 2016 Meditation #17: Hop on Hope

Not-so-Ironic Advent 2016 Meditation #17: 
Hop on Hope

It's been a rough day or two for hope. 
A rough week, rough year, rough century.
And so it goes. 
Unless you believe Steven Pinker or Pangloss or that cheerleader from back in college who would always be chanting V*I*C*T*O*R*Y as we were yet again taking a beating from some team our optimistic coach had lied to us about just an hour before in the locker room. 

And by definition, Ben Camino has never allowed any space for cheap optimism in his Ironic Advent Meditations. The gloom is real. The darkness is probably darker than you think. And I'm not even going to mention Aleppo two nights in a row.

I will pray though. Both when I believe and when I'm not sure I do. Bad habit I picked up at Our Lady of Mercy. 

Contrary to popular opinion, I am into Hope. So into it, that I just capitalized it. 

I won't go into all this right now, since I just belabored the difference between hope and optimism a week ago as we finished our World Literature course with Voltaire's Candide. A student asked me from the back of the room if I was a pessimist. I said, no, I hope not (get it?). Pessimism is a vice. As is optimism. 

On Noel's birthday, December 20th, I will re-post my meditation from 2013 about dying, hope, and an exceptional liver doctor who read Dante. For tonight, I just want to say that I acknowledge that things look bad. 

And yet, I have reasons for hope. Maybe it's just because I am so damn liturgical, and I know that we are moving closer to the Fourth Sunday of Advent and the great joy of Mary (who had a baby, yes Lord), who preached the Magnificat into her own dark world, as well, I'm sure, as her own fears and doubts and stretch marks. 

Or maybe it was because I saw something today that Wendell Berry said. No, it wasn't anything Wendell Berry said. It was the moon. Did you see that moon. A friend wrote in BLOCK LETTERS on Facebook tonight: GUYS, GO OUT AND LOOK AT THE MOON. REALLY, GO LOOK AT THE MOON! By guys, she meant human person and  animals (like me) for whom the moon is the deep structure of some primordial worship language.

Not only that, Jennifer and Michael Hammond are celebrating the tenth birthday of their twins, Anne and Evelyn. For Jennifer and Michael, that whole life-giving experience which is still developing, is cause for joyful prophesying enough to move forward. At least until, say, the twins are eleven. Then they can reevaluate the situation. 

And my friend Jack got an awesome poem published which, so as to not offend publishers, I will just give a short review and quote two lines. It's great. Here are the lines:
Trappers in say young Minnesota
may have seen rise of westerly light.

Not to mention (oops) that his wife Amy got a gold-star review or something on her new book. I don't know, gold star or some star thing, a good thing, that's what I know. 

Someone else I know is fighting cancer. And still going strong. Real strong.

And I had a long-lost cousin who just turned up a couple of years ago and she's awesome and I'm hoping to finally meet her down in Texas over Christmas. 

Speaking of. Texas for Christmas. Oh, hayll yes. I can almost feel it in my bones as I'm grading my last several thousand essays and exams. 

As always, students who are doing great things. All kinds of things. Writing songs not just exams and papers. Singing. Going home to see parents. Taking my Narnia class in January although it's not a requirement for any dang major ever invented. 

My children. Alive. Working hard. Caring about their world and their neighbors. 

My friend Joe is in Cuba, people. Cuba! And drinking . . . coffee (last I heard). 

Jennifer Strange is making fruitcake.

Other Jennifer is going to add a guest Ironic Advent Meditation!

Other Jennifer's husband, Edwin, is also going to add a guest Ironic Advent Meditation!

Laura said "Um, ya" about adding an Ironic Advent Meditation, so I'm . . . hopeful she will. 

Missy might too. 

I mentioned the moon, didn't I. COME YOU GUYS, YOU'VE GOT TO GO OUT AND LOOK AT THE MOON!

Also, Pope Francis.  Big thank you to someone for that sweetheart.

Last week, a student stood up at the end of class, and asked if she could pay a proper tribute to Gerard Manley Hopkins whose poems we had been studying. She then recited "God's Grandeur" from memory. I might have cried.

It's really really cold out but I splurged for my first pair of decent gloves in a long time. 

There's so much beauty, and I haven't got an explanation for it. 

And love. That crazy, crazy thing. Uncountable and unaccountable.

If I looked at news footage of anything, which I don't, I'd forget about 
my friend who loves her children, 
my relative who works on the National Domestic Violence Hotline,
my brother who writes such sweet songs, 
my daughter working with special needs children, 
my artist friends who haven't given up on making beautiful things, 
Elizabeth and Catherine doing ballet among the chickens, 
the Advent hymns of Paul Gerhardt, 
people who, even tonight, are walking the Camino de Santiago, 
the merciful, 
those who hunger and thirst for justice,
those who provide bread and water for those who hunger and thirst,
kindergarten teachers, 
people who make me hug them, 
Chagall windows
a baby in a womb,




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