By Jane Malkoff MSN RN NP

How can there be hope in the midst of a very sick child, a terminal illness, dementia, aging, multiple overwhelming stressors and the oppressive reality of our mortality?  How does this hope drive our human desire to welcome the next day even while we know there will be difficulties, unanswerable questions and eventually death?  What is this hope made of and how can we have enough of it?

Hope demands of us to think into and then beyond the current circumstance, pleasant or unpleasant.  It serenades us into a love affair with what is.  Once in this place of “now” the chorus lures us on to imagine and then to create what is yet to be.  This repeatable process begins to allow us to cope with unbelievable life changes, difficult experiences as well as tremendous life joys.  Eventually, we come to realize the amazing capacity of hope to expand our minds and hearts to raise our comprehension.

I believe hope is the entrance to the next level of understanding and if we can welcome it long enough and strong enough, we will be brought to the next layer of understanding time and time again.

I have seen the manifestations of hope with my own eyes over many years of working with people faced with very difficult circumstances.  I do not know for certain if hope can be cultivated but if it can perhaps these four traits of hope I have witnessed over the years will be useful.

  1. Hope thrives in friendships and connections and recedes in personal isolation
  2. Hope is best friends with vulnerability
  3. Hope has a desire for the present moment and diminishes in predicting the future
  4. Hope grows with practice

During this beautiful autumn time, it is my hope you will recognize how your hope has grown and brought you to where you are now so that you can see the face of reality as simply the hope you embrace and share in each moment.