I was originally going to write a mostly reflective piece looking back at what I had written during the first six days of the first week of Advent. However, yesterday I stumbled upon a quote from Pope Benedict that I think is quite interesting:
To have Christian hope means to know about evil and yet to go to meet the future with confidence. The core of faith rests upon accepting being loved by God, and therefore to believe is to say Yes, not only to him, but to creation, to creatures, above all, to men, to try to see the image of God in each person and thereby to become a lover. That's not easy, but the basic Yes, the conviction that God has created men, that he stands behind them, that they aren't simply negative, gives love a reference point that enables it to ground hope on the basis of faith.
Even for readers who do not share my faith in God, I think this is a powerful set of ideas. Hope means that despite all I know is wrong with the world--whether I am thinking about the world as a whole or my little piece of the world--I go forward with confidence. Not only do I meet the future with confidence, but I meet each and every day with confidence. I start the morning with confidence. I parent with confidence. I go to work with confidence. I even run with confidence. Everything is done with confidence.
Saying Yes to a higher power is saying Yes to creation. Yes means engaging with. Yes means interacting with. Yes means love not in the sense of romantic love but love in a sense of a basic caring for others. A love of humanity. A love of nature. A love of the world. A caring for the world. A realization that there is a role of stewardship for the world.
And it fascinates me that Pope Benedict used the expression of saying "Yes". Because in my last set of reflections (40 Days to Better that began on September 1 and continued until the Baltimore running festival), I commented many times on the book The Answer to How is Yes. I never would have guessed that Pope Benedict and an author of a book on management would have used the same phrasing. That, no matter what the question, the answer is to do. The answer is to achieve. The answer is to move forward. The answer is to choose what is most important and to act.
What Pope Benedict might have thought guides those decisions and what Peter Block thinks guides those decisions may be substantially different. But from whatever world view, from whatever view of a higher power, from whatever view that motivates morality, the key here is that hope means believing in an intrinsic good of the human spirit, giving people the benefit of the doubt, and moving forward to make the world a better place despite the odds.
I know that I have been blessed not to have the odds stacked against me too much in my life. But believing that I can help to do something to make the world a better place for someone despite the odds is so me.