By Dawn Onley
At a basic level, most religions are based on the concept of hope. The hope in an omnipotent and omnipresent God or higher power. The hope that there is more than this life. The hope of seeing loved ones again. The hope of eternity in heaven.
Hope is such a powerful thing. Hope is why we do what we do each day, rising at ungodly hours in the morning, getting dressed and trudging to work. The hope for a better life for our families. It is what keeps us going when all signs point to hopelessness. Hope and faith are sisters.
Once hope is gone, we may feel as if there’s no reason to hang on. Suicide has always made me extremely sad, for the family and friends left behind but especially for the person who felt hopeless. The person who no longer could deal with the pain; who felt like their life was worth ending.
Over the years, when despair and doubt started to rear their ugly heads my direction, I’ve become increasingly vigilant in protecting hope – in a better day and in a better outcome. Hope is really all we have. If we can’t have faith in an unknown outcome, we can’t be hopeful.
Around the holidays and at the end of a year and the beginning of a new one, when some people have a heightened sense of loss, dread and weariness, I’d like to encourage you to go in search of beauty and light. There’s courage in clinging to hope despite our fears. Pay attention to the smile from the stranger on the street or the compliment from a friend. Reconnect to what makes you feel alive – be it painting or writing or baking a special family recipe.
Cherish and protect the nuggets of joy. Keep reaching for the sun. It’s still there, behind the clouds, to lighten the day’s load.
As long as we have hope, we have a fighting chance.