The question of where I find hope in these difficult times misses the bullseye by a fraction of an inch. Hope, it seems to me, is not something to search for. It's not like a game of hide-and-seek: "Is that hope's sneaker under the bushes? I see hope between the rocks! Home free, I found hope!" Instead hope is a constant, whatever the season—stormy, tranquil, foggy. To say I believe in the God of Jesus means that hope is.
The question I wrestle with is this: do I live as a person of hope? The bottom line is always whether I am dancing toward the cross in an absurd and wild affirmation of the victory of life over death.
A few months ago I would have placed myself in the top five percent on any national merit test on hope. Honest. I figured my dossier matched the criteria listed by any authority on hope.
The facts all add up. I believe in a God of life, and I work for a future that brings fullness of life, especially for God's favorites: the poor, oppressed, and marginal. I rub shoulders with the "undeserving poor," and my record for saying no to the forces of death is laudable. I have even been known to embrace a cross or two; one could check my arrest record for proof.
My personal assessment read: faith is adequate, charity needs extra work, hope is excellent. Then I went to Honduras.
I was part of the group of 150 churchwomen who attempted a peace pilgrimage to Honduras in December, 1983. Our plan was to pray for peace in that troubled region at U.S. naval and air bases. Before departing for Tegucigalpa, we spent an orientation day in Miami, and I had an opportunity to get acquainted with hope, to discover her depth and confront my shallowness. It was no earth-shattering encounter, except for me. I discovered I was afraid to die.