Hope, you see, is not an act of will so much as it is an act of imagination and of courage. Hope, it strikes me, is not that word that we utter at the bedside of the dying when we say unthinkingly, "I hope that this will all end well," and what we mean is that we hope that this life will not continue to go in the direction in which it is going. That is not hope but a kind of mindless optimism. . . . The substance of hope is that somehow we will get through and go through this inevitable direction, because on the other side is that hope into which we believe we have been called and for which and by which we have been prepared all our lives. It is that kind of hope that the doctors simply do not understand at the bedsides of the dying; it is that kind of hope that is the ultimate resource available to the faithful, an act of imagination and courage, and imagination and courage are required, for hope deals with what has not yet happened. Hope allows us to see beyond what is and to imagine, to see with our inner eye, what might and what ought to be. When we say, as we often do, that hope triumphs over experience, that is precisely what we mean. Left alone to a life of experience, where we deal with nothing but the facts, where we are content to address only the tangible, the material, the really real, the mundane, we are doomed to the accumulation, the sum total, of that experience. Experience tells us only where we have been, like driving a car by the light of the rearview mirror; and there can be no ultimate satisfaction in the accumulation of that experience. Christian hope is meant to guide you into the place where you have not yet been, and into becoming the person you have not yet become.

That is the radical dimension of the Christian faith, and it is not content with the notion of Christianity celebrating the things that are or, worse still, of Christianity celebrating things as we imagine them once to have been.

Peter Gomes, Strength for the Journey