Friday, December 6, 2013

Living Hope

Every morning, my husband and I begin the day by asking ourselves, 'what happened yesterday that was positive, beautiful, sweet?' What unexpected wonderful surprises occurred? As we contemplate these moments of delight, we're infused with gratitude. Any sadness, anger, depression or anxiety about the future dissolves.

For a recent performance at Stephentown Federated Church,  I centered my readings, music and anecdotes around the theme of Hope. I played Amazing Grace, Hallelujah, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Let It Be - music that's majestic and deep. Music that I and the Rev. Susan Harris Schultz of the church both love.

 I composed and read this poem about Hope, inspired by the words of great teachers and texts, and by an extraordinary woman named Alice Herz Sommer--the oldest living Holocaust survivor and a pianist. Alice (see videos below) affirms the power of optimism and the power of music. Alice is a living expression of Hope.

What is hope?
Is it our longing for light
In the hours of darkness?
Is it our prayer for relief
from pain?
Is it our search for answers?
Or our desire for good fortune
for those we love?

How do we find hope
Amidst the many dangers, toils and snares
From which we’ve come?

How can a Holocaust survivor be
Thankful for everything?
How, after seeing such horrors,
Can she believe that things
Are not so terrible?
What enables her to
Know there is bad,
And yet to
Look only at the good?

Let us contemplate:
What does it mean to dwell
On a smile or a
Kind gesture...
To perceive
A blaze of light in every word,
No matter what word we’ve heard?

When Emily Dickinson writes,
Hope is that thing, like a bird,
With feathers that perches in the soul...And sings the tune without the words...And never stops at all,

Is hope what it means to
focus on the light?
And when we do, what are we seeing?

Is it the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living?

Are we perceiving
God’s steadfast love?

Are we able to contemplate
Sweetness and beauty because God’s love
Has been poured into our hearts?

John Newton (“Amazing Grace); Alice Herz Sommer; Leonard Cohen (“Hallelujah”);
Emily Dickinson (“Hope is the Thing with Feathers”); Psalm 147:11; Psalm 27:13; Romans 5: 2-7

Looking Backward - Living Hope
When you awaken, begin your day by reflecting on yesterday, the day before, or even earlier. What happened that was beautiful, enduring, sweet? Perhaps it’s the way someone smiled, or an unexpected surprise at work, or time with friends or your family. Consider these moments of delight. Be grateful for them. Speak them aloud as you say, “An unexpected wonderful surprise was...” Notice how your mood changes.

(c)2014 Jessica Roemischer/In Duet with God(R)

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