Prisoner of hope

wedding day

I’m so excited to confirm that long-lost pals Jim Lowder and Jerene Broadway have accepted our offer to come out and perform our wedding ceremony in October. I’m indebted to Jim for the concept of hope in general (see my previous post), and I’m extra indebted to Jerene for a recent email and shout-out to African American theologian Cornel West, as quoted in a recent Rolling Stone article:

The categories of optimism and pessimism don’t exist for me. I’m a blues man. A blues man is a prisoner of hope, and hope is a qualitatively different category than optimism. Optimism is a secular construct, a calculation of probability. Black folk in America have never been optimistic about the future – what have we had to be optimistic about? But we are people of hope. Hope wrestles with despair, but it doesn’t generate optimism. It just generates this energy to be courageous, to bear witness, to see what the end is going to be. No guarantee, unfinished, open-ended. I am a prisoner of hope. I’m going to die full of hope.

In making me aware of this quote, Jerene has kicked the entire concept of hope to the next level. I can only endeavor to be a prisoner of hope and abide by this thing I’ve been so compellingly recently drawn towards. It has occurred to me since giving birth to Lucy that having a child (in any of various ways) is itself the ultimate act of hope, and likewise it has also occurred to me that it provides indeed a precious reason to hope in general.

Jerene provides me with the biggest gift when she elaborates, referring to the Cornel West quote:

He is quoting the book of Zechariah when he refers to himself as a “prisoner of hope,” a phrase which has always captured my imagination. I resonate with his insistence that hope is the courageous choice, for I surely know that it is easier to be cynical & despairing than to be hopeful. I’m working very hard to live into that kind of hopefulness. From your writing, it sounds like you have chosen hope as your home. May you continue to reside there, welcoming others in.

Such beautiful words; I count myself lucky to receive them. Thanks Jerene.

Leanne interrupts me just now to tell me that one thing our daughter has marked in the latest catalog as a required birthday present is actually not for sale (the surfboard). Way to go Lucy! Nothing is beyond your reach. May you always be filled with this. May we all be so lucky to be prisoners of hope.

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