The geranium hadn’t flowered in weeks. I’d cut off all the old blooms sometime around the end of Fall or the beginning of Winter. It made sense to me, a kind of dormancy at this time of year. Passing it one day in late January, I was stopped in my tracks. A cluster of tight green buds had appeared. In early February, some of those buds had begun to crack open, revealing bright pink streaks of the petals that huddled inside. Hope. The word whispered itself through every cell in my body.

I’d never really thought too much about hope. I’ve definitely held hope for many things in my life, I’ve often said “I hope so,” or “let’s hope that happens!” But I’d never really considered hope until this past January.

For the past few years, I’ve been part of a weekly writing group that explores different topics and themes in our time together. In January it was hope. When I thought about hope, words like heartfelt, longing, mystery, grace, and spark came up. As well as associations like naivety, wishing, and grasping. I’d always held hope as feeling promising and buoyant. But as I delved into it, I felt more and more caught up in ideas and feelings of hope as immature, wide-eyed and Pollyanna-ish, naïve.

Around this same time, I’d been thinking about thresholds: with the arrival of a new year; a new month; a new course of study I’d embarked on; a getting reacquainted with Ganesha, the Hindu deity of many things including new beginnings and thresholds. Through different practices, reflection, and contemplation I was seeing myself at a threshold of stepping more deeply into and getting grounded in myself to then be able to step more fully connected and authentically out into the world. A threshold to deeper depths of the interior, and a threshold to a more awakened exterior. As I visited, thought on, and wrote about thresholds, I realized that the word and a sense of hope was continuously emerging.

Hope, I was seeing, has many facets. From a surface level, an off-handed way we might say “I hope so,” to its flip side of its seeming naïve and therefore maybe completely unwarranted, to a profound beauty and mystery. The threshold is a place of pause and an unknowing. At the point between the known behind us and the relatively unknown ahead of us. The place of leaving something behind—which itself can elicit feelings of excitement and readiness to trepidation and grief—to step into something new—which, too, can evoke feelings of hesitation and fear or excitement and hope. Hope for all the potential and possibilities that may lie in the vast unknown. There are no guarantees with hope. And maybe that’s part of why it can feel baseless at times. Hearing or seeing the news on any given day, or something that may be happening in our personal lives can land us in feelings of hopelessness and apathy. And the thought of holding hope in any way may seem absurd. But maybe if we go a little deeper, beyond the surface feelings of hope, we can enter into the profundity that hope can offer. Not necessarily all bright and wide-eyed and wishful thinking, but a smoldering or a spark that can inspire us to keep showing up. A spark that can illuminate pathways around and through hopelessness so that we can continue to hold space for hope and the potential and possibilities it may hold. A deep heartfelt hope for the planet, humanity, each other, and ourselves.

While writing this, I was hearing birdsong. Still in Winter, that sound cannot help but bring a feeling of hope to my heart, the hope of Spring approaching. I realize that amid all the things that can pull us into hopelessness, there are so many other things that can tether us to a thread of hope, keep a spark of hope ignited, help us to find a buoyancy that may rise from the surface or our depths. Birdsong, sunrise breaking on the horizon, a smile, a laugh, a flower…

As I looked at that flower bud, I saw it as a threshold and as an embodiment of hope. In that place between tightly closed and in full bloom, the color within just starting to be revealed. It felt like the point of promising possibility. No guarantees, yet still hope. Hope in the in-between toward becoming and what that becoming might be.

Recent Reflections on Hope