Single Words Part Six: Hope

A Note From The Administrators: This is the final installment of a six-part series in which each administrator will discuss one of the six words found in the Winston Churchill quote below.  Follow the links to read parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Enjoy.

All great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.

-Winston Churchill-

“Where am I?”, “The pit of despair!…don’t even think – ahem, don’t even think about trying to escape. The chains are far too thick. Don’t dream of being rescued, either, the only way in is secret.”

This dialogue, of course, is from the greatest movie scene of all time involving an albino man, a man with a wounded shoulder, a man with six fingers on his right hand, a tree with a hinged door, and various wooden structures used for torture. In fact, I’m pretty sure it won an Academy Award in that extremely specific category. Don’t tell me you’ve never seen The Princess Bride? Seriously, don’t. Unless you live under a rock, or in some parts of Iowa, there’s no excuse for your not having seen The Princess Bride. It’s not only a movie that every man should watch, it’s a movie every man should be able to fluently and frequently quote at dinner, weddings, and other inappropriate times, not excluding Bar Mitzvahs.

So you’re probably wondering what The Princess Bride has to do with hope, right? And I can understand why you feel this way. As a general rule, life lessons aren’t usually gleaned from movies that include Andre the Giant, God rest his soul. But hope is kind of funny like that. Hope has always been difficult for me to get my head and my hands around. By definition, hope is this feeling that things will get better, that what is wanted will be had, that some sort of rescue is coming. It’s the opposite of despair. And all of this sounds great and makes perfect sense on the surface. But I’m not sure we can truly understand or appreciate hope until we find ourselves below the surface, in some sort of pit (of despair).

Remember last year when those Chilean miners were trapped underground? Surely you didn’t miss this too. I’m looking at you, Iowa. I, like the rest of the world, was captivated by this story. 33 guys trapped 2,300 underground in a 530 square foot area. Talk about a pit of despair. No offense, Westley, what happened to you in there was unfair. Can you imagine? Can you imagine the hopelessness they must have felt when those walls collapsed around them? Imagine the despair, the sense of dread that must have been running through their minds. After a few days in complete darkness, surely they had to be thinking, “we’ll never get out of this pit.”

But then it happened. Out of the darkness broke hope, in the form of a four-inch piece of pipe. At that moment, they knew rescue was coming, they were certain someone knew about their condition and was trying to do something about it. Food, water, and other life-saving supplies were sent through this tube to the miners to keep them healthy until a rescue plan could be finalized. For 69 days, this four-inch tube was their lifeline. It ultimately saved their lives.

This got me thinking about something. Let’s say these guys already had enough food and water to survive 69 days in this pit, could they have survived without the tube? If they didn’t need the tube for daily nourishment, could they have held on in the dark, with no assurance that rescue was coming? I think the answer is no. See, the beauty of this tube was not just the nourishment it provided to their bodies, the beauty of the tube was the hope that it provided to their souls. From the moment that tube broke through a dirt wall, I have to believe a new emotion filled their minds and their spirits. Instead of that hopelessness, that despair, that sense of dread, they now felt hope. They now had the feeling that things will get better, that what is wanted will be had, and that some sort of rescue is coming.

The thing about hope is, we can’t really live without it. Can we survive without hope? Sure, but let’s be sure to note the distinction between really living and surviving, because it certainly exists, and I’m sure you’ve felt it by now. I’ve found myself in a few pits before, maybe you have too. Or maybe you’re in one now. Maybe the walls feel like they’re too high and the chains feel too thick. Maybe despair surrounds you like a man with six fingers on his right hand. Hope can change things.

So if we want to really live, if we want to live lives full of expectation and fulfillment, we need hope. And if we want to get out of the pits we’ve jumped into, we need hope. So the question is, how do we get it? How can we get our heads and our hands around this idea and allow it to fill our souls? How do we move from just surviving to really living?

I believe the answer is this: get to know the rescuer.

Because when we’re certain that someone has our best interests in mind, that someone knows about our condition and is tirelessly working to do something about it, our lives can change. This feeling invades our minds and our spirit. It’s called hope, and it can bring us back above the surface once again.

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Categories: A First Faint Gleam

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