I don’t have to spend much time walking the streets or following the news to know how much our world needs hope. We live in the midst of a crisis of violence towards the Earth and between peoples. The potential for violence lies in me and, I expect, in each one of us. So how can we be hopeful about the future?
For me, the answer is in becoming keenly aware of my relatedness to everyone and everything else. I’ve found that miracles can happen when I trust enough or suffer enough to relax my defenses and experience the other as myself. People who live on the margins are often less able to keep up protective walls and less invested in impressing others.
Maybe this is why the gospels tell us that God is so close to people who suffer. I think of Tim, who has a severe intellectual disability. Once I brought my friend Mary on a visit to his L’Arche home, and we sat on either side of him. When Mary sneezed, he brought one palm to his forehead, then reached out to my forehead to make sure I was well.
I don’t want to romanticize people with disabilities. There is much suffering there. But I’ve received many gifts of hope from friends in L’Arche. They help me recognize the gift we can be to each other, and that, at heart, we are each other. And they teach me that it is in that place of openness that we discover the hope we need and the hope the world needs.
– Barbara Sheppard