I like that – ‘ugly hope’. When we are thinking about changing something in our lives, we sometimes get lured into a sense that the new thing or situation will be effortlessly achieved, without mess or stress, or things going wrong. In our daydreams, everything goes perfectly and our new situation, partner, job, home will be completely without fault or downside. In his book, ‘Let your Life Speak’, Parker Palmer describes the different seasons and reflects on them relating to times in life. When we are in period of winter – cold, bleak, dark, we long for spring with its lighter days and shoots of new growth everywhere. In between these two seasons, the snow melts and it gets muddy and messy underfoot. The beauty of the crisp white snow is replaced with sludge and we can find it hard to walk without slipping about. Places of transition and change can be uncomfortable, awkward, unnerving. It may take a while before we finally settle into whatever our new place or thing is. We hold on to our vision, our dream, our creation, until it comes into full fruition. In the meantime, we squelch through the mud of ugly hope.
When Jesus was daydreaming about how his public ministry might develop, I wonder if doing battle with temptation and fasting in the desert were part of the plan. Walking on shifting sand can be just as difficult to walk on and as tiring as plodging through mud. Jesus drew strength from his relationship with God to see him through. We can too. Like the shwe shwee poppi, we have a heart stitched onto us – the unconditional love of God who created us.
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