Archive for Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fire of hope and change must remain stoked

April 16, 2009

The day is cold and overcast. We meet, the five of us, for lunch. It is a Sunday afternoon, after church. We are old friends catching up on the news in each other’s lives. It is what good friends should do — touch base and refresh the sense of connectedness that friendships over time bring with them.

We are an odd assortment, like a mixed box of chocolates of differing shapes and sizes. Only we are differing ages and genders; four adults and one youngster. The middle school youngster is patient with us as our conversation meanders from topic to topic.

I tell her she is gracious to sit for so long and listen to adult talk; she says she finds it interesting; that she learns things through such conversation. It is an old- fashioned gathering of sorts; a Sunday afternoon passed over a long, slow dinner with conversation that is personal and private as well as public and political.

We discuss one another’s families; how the job market is going for each of us; how the economy is having an impact on each of our businesses or personal ventures. One of us is retired and lends a viewpoint of an entirely different nature.

We all know change is inevitable; not just because we have a president elected on the promise of change but because change comes to all of us, whether we invite it or not. What each seeks to do is manage the change as best as we can, with the resources we have on hand to do so.

We discuss what it takes to get through challenging changes and are reminded of Jerome Frankl’s book entitled “Man’s Search for Meaning”. Frank’s thesis in that book is that those people who survive change, even prosper from it in a psychological sort of way, are those people who are hopeful; hopeful and find some meaning or purpose in the experience itself but in life in general.

This sense of hope was discovered initially in those people who survived concentration camps; those who survived had a strong sense of purpose, of hope in the future; in the belief that there was some unfinished project that only they could complete. The deep emotional experience of hope can buoy a person through the worst of times when it appears that all hope is lost; burning like an ember in a dying fire, it continues to burn until stoked and brought back to life by the holder of the flame.

Barack Obama did not discover hope; he fanned the flames of the dying embers. There are many, even in these difficult times that confront us, hopeful people that a better day is yet to come.

For that day to come, hope like the ember of a dying fire, must be kept alive; each individual is a keeper of the flame.

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