In this inspiring collection of meditations on hope, R. Wayne Willis, the former director of Pastoral Care at Norton Healthcare in Louisville, Kentucky, presents quotations and stories designed to engender within us this important spiritual faculty. He calls it the fuel that keeps us going through suffering and loss — something to remember in the face of natural disasters and the perils of terrorism. Willis is convinced that we must unlearn habits of hopelessness and helplessness which only serve to drag us down. We can benefit from our failures and start again.

This resource will perk up your spirits. In one meditation, Willis recounts how Buckminster Fuller wanted "Call me a trim tab" put on his cemetery marker. The trim tab is a small rudder that is attached to the large rudder of a ship or airplane; by nudging the rudder, it can change the direction of the vehicle. The point, of course, is that although we may view our contributions to the greater good as being very slight, even a little nudge is better than nothing!

Here is one of many teaching stories in the book. This one explores the resiliency needed by all those who walk the spiritual path.

"A man came upon a guru sitting at the intersection of several roads.

" 'O wise man,' he pleaded, 'please show me the way to wisdom, meaning and truth.' "

"The guru pointed down the road. The man trotted off in that direction, full of anticipation. Just as he disappeared over the horizon there was a great 'Kaboom!' The earth shook. There was a flash of light and a cloud of dust. The man shuffled back to the guru, disheveled and bewildered.

" 'I'm afraid there's been a mistake,' he said. 'I must have misunderstood your directions. I asked you to show me the way to wisdom, meaning, and truth.'

"The guru again said not a word but pointed in the same direction. This time the man walked away, slowly, more than a little apprehensive. Sure enough, as soon as he disappeared over the horizon, 'Kaboom!' The earth shook. There was a flash of light and a cloud of dust. He returned to the guru covered with debris and his clothes shredded.

" 'You fraud!' he angrily told the guru. 'This is not funny! Twice I ask you for the way to wisdom, meaning, and truth and you don't even speak. You just point.'

"The wise man rose to his feet, pointed once more in the same direction, and spoke: 'Wisdom, meaning, and truth beyond Kaboom.' ''