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“The Gates of Hope” meditation by Victoria Safford

Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of hope — not the prudent gates of Optimism, which are somewhat narrower; nor the stalwart, boring gates of Common Sense; nor the strident gates of self-righteousness … nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of ‘Everything is gonna be all right,’ but a very different, sometimes very lonely place, the place of truth-telling, about your own soul first of all and its condition, the place of resistance and defiance, the piece of ground from which you see the world both as it is and as it could be, as it might be, as it will be; the place from which you glimpse not only struggle, but joy in the struggle — and we stand there, beckoning and calling, telling people what we are seeing, asking people what they see.

from “The Poetry of Creatures,” Public Radio program On Being, Krista Tippet with Prof. Ellen Davis (via growingupdad)

“The Poetry of Creatures”

Prof. Davis: It’s interesting that none of the so-called prophetic books of the Bible, the books that actually have the names of prophets attached to them, like Jeremiah, Isaiah, Amos, all of those books bring us to despair if we take them seriously. If we apply them to our lives they, in a sense, bring us to our knees. But none of them ends without what they call in the book of Jeremiah “the book of consolation.” None of them ends without a picture of the people of God returning to a healthy relationship with God, and all of them have a picture of the land being fruitful and productive, in celebration you might say, of that restored relationship between God and humanity, God and Israel.

And as kind of a parallel to that, when I began working in this area and I saw how deep the problems were, I got more and more depressed. I noticed this happens with my students when we begin studying this. The first movement is into depression.

Ms. Tippett: Mm-hmm.

Prof. Davis: But then there begins to be a sort of brightening on the path, you might say, as we begin to see that there are other people seeing the same things, we’re seeing and working on these things.

Ms. Tippett: You know, you use phrases in your writing that are kind of countercultural. You know, you speak of “a tenacious but severely chastened hope” or “things that are encouraging and deeply sobering.” And maybe it is that kind of realism that we have to have about hope, how closely it can be mingled with our despair and yet survive.

Prof. Davis: Certainly there is a difference between hope and a foolish optimism. And in order to have hope, you have to see the depth and the dimensions of the problem.

Public Radio program On Being, Krista Tippet with Prof. Ellen Davis (via growingupdad)

Love does win, but not the kind of love that Bell talks about in this book. The love he describes is one that is founded solely on the idea that the primary object of God’s love is man; indeed, the whole story, he writes, can be summed up in these words: “For God so loved the world.” But this doesn’t hold a candle to the altogether amazing love of God as actually shown in the Bible. The God who “shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8), who acts on our behalf not so much because His love for us is great, but because He is great (Isaiah 48:9, Ezekiel 20:9,14,22,44, 36:22; John 17:1-5).