Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
                                          –Emily Dickinson

The first line of this poem by Emily Dickinson kept running around in my mind the last couple of days. I guess because we had had some e-mail exchanges with a family we’ve been involved with for a number of years.

They’ve been through some rough times. Some of them have been of their own making, but others have been situations they have had no control over. It has seemed recently as though about every time things were beginning to look up, something would go wrong–or the situation would not work out as they hoped it would.

Most recently, the husband has been out of work over a year…had a stroke (which he came through without any longterm damage)…and thought he had a good opportunity to receive paid training–with a job offer–as an over-the-road truck driver. He has gotten all the way through to getting his permit–but the company decided they didn’t need so many in the class…and so he’s left in the lurch again, just needing his practice driving time to get his license, but without a way of having that happen.

We had received an e-mail from the wife indicating that they were out of hope.

We went to visit them Saturday–and found them in better spirits–with more hope–than the e-mail had indicated. But that triggered thoughts of the Emily Dickinson poem…and I got to thinking of how sad it must be to truly have no hope.

I’ve never been there. I’ve been–especially in the last couple of years–through some very difficult storms (mostly work-related)…and at times have wondered what the future was holding…where I was going to end up…and, even, sometimes if there was a place for me in my church. And yet, even in those times, the little bird of hope kept singing. Sometimes I wondered why. Why did I still have even just a smidgen of hope when everything logical said to just give up?

But it was there. Something singing…singing a tune without words…something that never stopped, that allowed me to see each new day as a new possibility.

I think that hope sometimes is a gift–a gift from God…perhaps a reminder that God continues to walk with me even through the darkest valleys.

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