This week I reread holiday cards and saw in many of them, “Here’s hoping for an easier 2022. Let’s hope for an end to all this darkness.”

Packing up hope messages, I remembered a lecture I gave years ago in South Carolina. I stood ready to speak, the “mindfulness woman” there to teach “some things that may be new to these 50 people,” the head of the institute advised.

Susan Young, MSEd, MSC, lives happily in retirement and hopes to see more of her grandkids in 2022.

Maybe I’d explain present time awareness, the benefits of living with, of living in, every moment, of paying kind attention to the miracles of “here and wow.” We might practice sitting with our breath.

I opened, “Welcome. Thank you for coming. Gratitude to this organization.” People nodded. Smiling at their expectant faces, I thought, “We’ve connected.”

I started with a catchy phrase so the attendees might chuckle or say, “Hmm, interesting.” We would then build on the concept, clarify what it meant and what it did not mean.

We began, “Have you heard the expression, ‘Inner peace is giving up all hope of a better past’?”


Laughs. Giggles. I added, “Mindfulness teacher Pema Chodron also says to give up hope for a better future. She suggests that dropping hope could be the beginning of the beginning and advises we put ‘Abandon hope’ on our refrigerators.”

People stared wide-eyed, in silence. Then the room erupted.

One tall man sprang from his metal chair, waving a tome, “Hope sustains us!” He opened the book and quoted, “Ephesians 1:18: ‘I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope …’ .”

A short woman interrupted and screamed, “’Hebrews 6:19: ‘We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.’ Don’t strip hope from anyone!”

“Of course,” I said. My heart ached for them. Here I was in their Bible Belt with this heresy. “That’s not what living without hope means.”

A teenager shouted over the jeers: “Wait. Hear what she has to say. Let her finish.”


I trawled for words, knowing we wouldn’t see the end of the topic that evening. “Sometimes when we skip out of our present realities into the hope for something better, we neglect what’s right here. And sometimes when we put aside hope for the future, even briefly, we focus on a current situation more fully.”

None of it mattered. The hollers in the room crescendoed, “Yes, I get it,” or, “This is crazy talk!”

Later, exhausted, I limped into the hall. The middle-aged man who had pumped his fist with the loudest “no” approached me. “You seem like a nice person,” he said as he offered a handshake. “I’m sorry I yelled at you. I understand what you were saying – or trying to say – to see what’s right in front of us, not to jump out of it. Do you see our point, to hope for courage, to hope for peace, to hope for better?”

I nodded, “Yes, of course.”

For 2022, let’s hope for the pandemic’s end. Let’s hope climate recalibrates. Let’s also do here and now what needs doing for our hopes for the future to be realized: Let’s make hope for the future actionable now. Perhaps sidelining hope and clinging to hope both matter. Wisdom lives in “let’s address the present situation.” And there is promise in the hope, and hope in the promise, of “maybe someday.” Of course.

Perhaps Desmond Tutu’s bow to hope helps heal any divide: “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”

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