Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Expectant Waiting

Walking back from the 'Hope and Helping Relationship' class at the University of Alberta where Kevin Jones presented on how he applies hope in his work as a teacher and principal, I found myself wondering what I would write about on today's blog. As a new blogger I am quite amazed at how much I look forward to writing every weekday morning. Yet, I never know what I am going to write until I sit down at the computer. I don't know if I trick myself into thinking I don't know, but I find myself being drawn to the computer to find out what I have to say.

It is a little like hope and the work we do at the Hope Foundation. We hope for the things that we are not certain. We are optimistic for the things that we know will come about. As a result, hope can be hard work. Sometimes our hopes do not happen, but the process of hoping can also bring about that which we were not expecting. In an earlier blog I quoted Valclav Havel who spoke about hope not having to have things turn out, but being okay with how they turn out. It is hope that enables us to deal with the pain and difficulties of life.

Because we hope for the things we are not certain, it is difficult to write and stick to outcomes for our programs at the Hope Foundation. However, we are getting better at making predictions about what might happen because we have collected more evidence about what does happen when we are intentional about using hope in different settings.

One of the things that we have gotten much better at doing is waiting patiently for the right time for things to happen. It seems that when we try to hard to work toward a particular outcome either something else happens or nothing happens at all.

Marcel, a Catholic theologian called what we often do - 'expectant waiting'. We have known for a very long time about the benefits of making hope visible and accessible. While waiting for the rest of the world to catch on, we work with those who are at first drawn to hope like we were at first. I cannot count how many times I have heard workshop participants say, "Things have shifted. I see the world and how I participate in it differently now that I have discovered the power of hope in my life." After a year of studying hope, a grade five student put it this way. "I used to think hope was just nothing but a meaningless word, but now I think it is a feeling that drives you to succeed."

And so as I sit down to write I am open to what it is that I need to become more aware of. I am also curious about what will surface when I allow myself to create and be creative. I am pretty certain that I start the process much earier during the many conversations I have, on the solo walks I take and the moments where I make myself sit quietly trying to empty my mind of all I have to do. As I write this, I am realizing it is the same process I find myself engaged in each time I walk into a classroom to have a conversation about hope or embark on a new hope project with a new group of individuals.

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