As I pondered the topics of hope and hopelessness, many questions stirred in my mind. It seemed important to frame my questions within the context of a personal relationship with a friend or family member. This fictional story was written to set the stage for the important questions I wanted to ask.
Memories of Christmases Past
We were nestled comfortably under the large green branches of our Christmas tree, the same artificial prickly one that had graced our living room as long as I could remember. As children, my sister and I loved Christmas morning. She especially was filled with anticipation, each year coming into my room long before dawn to insist that we peek at the pile of presents we knew awaited us.
Her yearly ritual began with an official counting of the presents; whose pile was bigger and who had the largest gift. Next, she would cajole my parents until finally, dreary-eyed and coffee in hand, they joined us around the tree.
My sister needed no sign of approval to begin. While I savored each gift and lightly lifted the tape that held the wrapping paper in place, she unceremoniously ripped each shred of colorful paper from its box, tossing it carelessly behind her. Next, she would quickly survey the gift and place it into a growing side-pile before moving quickly to the next wrapped gift. At the end of her frantic routine, she would select her favorite present and keep it in her grip for the remainder of the day.
Questions Stirred on Christmas Morning
Pleasant Christmas memories built one upon another, until we held to an unquestioning belief that Christmas would always be a wonderful day.
It seems we were programmed by yesterday’s experiences to anticipate what tomorrow would hold. Based on that, I have begun to wonder, do yesterday’s experiences create a foundation of hope?
And if hope is built upon yesterday’s experiences, what does it mean for the one who has never been programmed by the beauty of yesterday? And what does it mean for the one whose present circumstances speak more loudly than the positivity of yesterday?
Those are the questions that stirred in my mind last Christmas morning, as I looked over at my now adult sister. We were comfortably nestled on the couch, wrapped in warm and snuggly blankets, not so different from our childhood. Gone, however, was the joy of the morning. Her eyes seeped loneliness, and her hands no longer reached in anticipation. Instead of her favorite present, she clutched despair in the emptiness of her own hands. Or, perhaps more accurately, the emptiness of despair clutched her.
Though I enticed her with thoughts of yesterday and anticipation of the future, I knew she could not see the beauty of life that I still saw.
Looking for Answers
And so, on that Christmas morning, my heart was stirred to question:
What does her hopelessness feel like?
Is there any chance that a remnant of hope still exists within her dark world?
And is there anything that might trigger a rebirth of hope?
To help me answer these questions, I turned to others who could share from their own experiences.