Planting ourselves at the gates of hope
The theme of our Church of the Brethren Annual Conference this year was “Risk Hope”. Hope is a commodity that sometimes seems to be in short supply. Many things in our lives and our world threaten our hope. That may be why Moderator Carol Scheppard chose that theme.
She wrote: “We live in times that challenge us in our quest to be faithful people. Strife and uncertainty permeate our society and invade our churches, and we grow disheartened and discouraged. Yet scripture teaches that troubled times can be times when God’s blessing is most evident in the midst of God’s people. We are not to fear the instability of our time, for our hope rests on the rock of our salvation.”
I subscribe to a quarterly magazine called Lumunos: Faith and Light for the Journey. The theme for the current issue: “And Now Hope”. The author of one article, Victoria Stafford, makes reference to a friend of hers who is a psychiatrist and who works in a health clinic at a women’s college. A student whom she had been counseling had recently committed suicide. She said, “You know I cannot save them, I am not here to save anybody or to save the world. All I can do—what I am called to do—is to plant myself at the gates of hope. Sometimes they come in. Sometimes they walk by. But I stand there every day and call out till my lungs are sore with calling….”
Victoria Stafford then shared a poem she wrote based on that phrase from her friend about “planting ourselves at the gates of hope.”
The Gates of Hope
Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of Hope
Not the prudent gates of Optimism,
Which are somewhat narrower.
Not the stalwart, boring gates of Common Sense;
Nor the strident gates of Self-Righteousness,
Which creak on shrill and angry hinges
(People cannot hear us there; they cannot pass through)
Nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of
“Everything is gonna’ be all right.”
But a different, sometimes lonely place,
The place of truth-telling,
About your own soul first of all and its condition.
The place of resistance and defiance,
The piece of ground from which we see the world
Both as it is and as it could be
As it will be;
The place from which you glimpse not only struggle,
But the joy of the struggle.
And we stand there, beckoning and calling,
Telling people what we are seeing
May we risk that kind of hope for ourselves and help bring it to others as we plant ourselves at the gates of Hope.