Keeping Hope Alive

"If I were to pick an image that would symbolize the current times in which we live, it would be that of one great big head. We live in our heads, talk from our heads, move from our heads, and create from our heads. We spend so little time feeling the animal of our bodies and tapping into the profound wisdom it contains. Whatever activities we can find to balance this mental chatter will, no doubt, lead us to a more soulful life.

"It is the mental arena that most takes us into fear of the future, worry, angst, and anxiety, and cuts us off from our own deep wisdom, optimism, and hope. Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr says, 'We are saved by hope. Our salvation lies in our belief in the openness of the future.' I love that phrase 'the openness of the future.' I know the future is open and yet in the dailiness of life I forget. I can get beaten down by the barrage of disasters in the world, whether they are natural or manmade. Even on a mundane level, the unending list of commitments I've made seems to slow me down to a crawl and I start to feel I cannot make the contribution I'd like to make in a small way, let alone on a larger scale.

"How best may we stay in hope? Not, I believe, by thinking our way to it. Hope lives in the wisdom of our bodies: in our hearts, arms, legs, lungs, and feet. I believe it is important to ask ourselves what we can do today to grow our hope. Just as we care for our plants, watering and feeding them, it is important to water and feed our hope to keep it healthy. We can't think our way to hope, we have to be hope. So how do we be hope? One sure way is to get in touch with the ecstasy of the body, and there is a multitude of ways to do that: drumming, dancing, soaking in a fragrant bath, having good sex, eating nutritious food, that's exquisitely and lovingly prepared, singing and playing music, and walking in nature, to name a few. Keeping the body happy is as important as feeding the mind.

"The question I ask is, 'What are you willing to commit to in order to keep yourself vibrantly hopeful?' "