Just Hope

I just read a powerful quote by poet extraordinaire, Amanda Gorman, in an interview published in Time Magazine. In the article, Michelle Obama interviews Amanda Gorman.

Optimism shouldn’t be seen as opposed to pessimism, but in conversation with it. Your optimism will never be as powerful as it is in that exact moment when you want to give it up. The way we can all be hopeful is to not negate the feelings of fear or doubt, but to ask: What led to this darkness? And what can lead us out of the shadows?

More than anything else, her words are about hope, just hope. We throw the word “hope” around quite often, hoping for this thing and then that thing. But that’s just hope, not necessarily real hope. Real hope is a hope that looks beyond the present moment, hope that is the glow from your soul, hope that is an abiding thing that is hidden in your soul.

The last thing I want to do today is give you all the definitions of hope I can find on the internet. In fact, if you wanted to, you could find hundreds of good quotes about hope on the internet, maybe even thousands. Like these:

Quotes and definitions may be popular, even relevant at times, but what I have desperately needed in my darkest moments was not a new definition of hope or even a lovely quote written on a picture of clouds. What I needed in my personal dark nights of terror was the kind of hope that had the gentle power to heal the deepest recesses of soul and to lift my spirit to the brilliant light that is never fully gone.

Just hope? Oh, no! Not just hope, but the abiding, living hope we know as the constant presence of God and the wings of Spirit breath. For this hope, thanks be to God.

As a gift to you on this day, I offer a video of Amanda Gorman presenting her hope-filled poem, “The Hill We Climb.” I know I previously sent a video of her presenting her poem at the Inauguration, but this video is worth watching. Find it HERE.

America! January 20, 2021

The day of Inauguration has come. Long awaited! Hope renewed! Refreshing winds of newness blow across us! We saw a unity of different people and heard a diversity of voices — Lady Gaga, Garth Brooks, Jennifer Lopez, Fr. Leo O’Donovan, Rev. Silvester Beaman, Amanda Gorman. The poem recited by Amanda Gorman is what I share with you today.

Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world, 

The Hill We Climb

When day comes we ask ourselves
Where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry a sea we must wade. 

We’ve braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace.
In the norms and notions of what just is isn’t always justice. 

And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow we do it. Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished. 

We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president

only to find herself reciting for one.

And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, 
but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man.

And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before
We close the divide because we know to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside.

We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true.
That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired,
we tried that will forever be tied together victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat,
but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
and no one shall make them afraid.
then victory won’t lie in the blade,
but in all the bridges we’ve made.

That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.

We’ve seen a forest that would shatter our nation rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
This effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
it can never be permanently defeated.

In this truth,
in this faith we trust for while we have our eyes on the future,
history has its eyes on us.

This is the era of just redemption.
We feared it at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour,
but within it, we found the power to author a new chapter,
to offer hope and laughter to ourselves so while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?

Now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was,
but move to what shall be a country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent, but bold, fierce, and free.

We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because
we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain,
if we merge mercy with might and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.

So let us leave behind a country better than one we were left with.
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the West.
We will rise from the wind-swept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the Lake Rim cities of the Midwestern states.
We will rise from the sun-baked South.
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover in every known nook of our nation,
In every corner called our country
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful.

When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid.
The new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Amanda Gorman (born March 7, 1998) is an American poet and activist from Los Angeles, California. Gorman’s work focuses on issues of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization, as well as the African diaspora.nGorman published the poetry book, The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough. In 2017, Gorman became the United States of America’s first National Youth Poet Laureate. She became the youngest poet to read at a presidential inauguration, reciting her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20, 2021.