When we think of the gift of Hope, at least in the theological sense, we often think about it as a one-way trip. God gives to us, and we receive. Recently, I heard a reflection on Hope titled, “Two-way Traffic,” which gave me food for thought.
Two Way Traffic
“‘Life is not a one-way street,’ he replied glibly to the young lady, as she inquired why he always parked in one direction on the street.
They had been talking about Hope, and now, having returned home, the older man wondered what this woman, barely in her early twenties, was talking about. Settling down into the recesses of his well-worn favorite chair, he reached for the mug of tea, always nearby at times such as this.
She was barely out of her parents’ house, probably armed with a new degree in psychology and ready to inform all the old folks how they mistake habits for wisdom. Nevertheless, her comments were bugging this mature mind, and he pondered more of what she meant.
The earlier part of their discussion focused on why Hope was a gift from God, how we needed to remove our own needs from the usual vernacular of today, and consider what this really means. One-way street? What the heck was that all about, he mused. I was merely explaining to her how God provides Hope to us all. Then, as happens sometimes, I had a moment. Oh yes, I see it now—God to me, not me onwards to others. So, then, onwards to others is the part I am missing. I have to be in the picture as well.”
Here I was, pontificating on the love of the Father in the parable of the Prodigal Son and missing one of the main points. The Father was the beacon of Hope in the story for the prodigal. That meant, which the young lady was pointing out this less than wise older person, Hope was a two-way street. We are called to be Christlike in our behavior; we are Christians, which means Hope comes from God, but can, and is, transmitted through us—two-way traffic!
So often, we miss the point that we can be a beacon of Hope for someone or a traffic light that seems to be painted red. This means, the trafficking of Hope, if I can use such an analogy, is spread amongst the community. We can bring it, disguise it, perhaps not extinguish it, but certainly are involved. Maybe this is why the secular society almost always thinks of Hope and optimism as being connected. Maybe it’s not optimism but rather our disposition towards God, Hope, and others are not fully appreciated. Something to ponder as I reach out for another cup of tea.
Reflection and Image © 2021 Dr. Michael J. Cunningham, O.F.S.