"As I have grown old, my feelings about God have tapered down to gratitude and hope. Gratitude is the pleasure of hope come true. Hope is the pain of gratitude postponed. Gratitude comes easy, on its own steam, whenever we know that someone has given us a real gift. Hope comes harder, sometimes with our backs against the wall, laden with doubts that what we hope for will ever come. Gratitude always feels good, as close to joy as any feeling can get. Hope feels unbearable; when we passionately long for what we do not have and it is taking too long to come, we are restless as a farmer waiting for rain after an August without a drop.

"Please don't misunderstand me. Any hope, no matter how thin it gets, is better than no hope at all. To lose all hope is to die, inside; on the outside you are a walking cadaver, no less dead for being on your feet. Still, even if having hope is one hundred percent better than not having it, living by hope can get awfully wearying. . . .

Hope is a universal human experience, and whether we hope as believers or as unbelievers, it always comes as a blend of three psychological ingredients. The first ingredient is a dream: we can hope only if we have eyes to see — albeit through a glass darkly — what it would be like for us if we got what we hope for. The second is desire: we can hope only for what we want — want, indeed, with a passion. The third ingredient is faith: we can keep on hoping only so long as we keep on believing that our dream will come true and our heart's desire for it will be satisfied.”