Notes on hope.

My new favorite thing at the moment is a book group I’m hosting with several ladies from our church. It wasn’t intentionally only meant for women, but that’s how it ended up going this time around. It’s not perfect, some people are still having trouble getting into the Zoom calls and connections aren’t always great, but we’re working on it, wading through the technology each Friday morning.

At the moment, I’m like many others in the New England area, working from home or alone in my church office and doing all my meetings over Zoom. Which presents itself with a nice opportunity here and there. Since our book group os on Friday mornings, it gives me a chance to work from home for the first half of the day, make a cup of Dark Matter coffee, and sit among an overabundance of pants missing leaves or half eaten by a cat in our cat-room (don’t worry, all the plants in the room are pet friendly). I usually try to hide Buddy’s rosemary bush he gnaws on as he watches the starlings, blue jays, and titmouse birds outside the window as they battle for the spicy, squirrel-proof birdseed hanging outside.

Yes, I made a viewing room for my cats and hung the appropriate materials to attract their favorite murder victims. I am not about to have bored pets.

I don’t even know what week it is at this point that we have been asked to stay home, but I know it’s long enough that it feels like normal. Our collective anxiety in this house has gone down since the beginning of our self-imposed quarantine because we’ve gotten used to being secluded. I didn’t say we liked it, but we’ve come to accept it. For now.

Much of these last few months have been overwhelming: trying to learn new technology, record worship each week, give sermons to blank cameras and not groups of people with reactions, learning to connect with each other over computers, practicing the art of letter-writing, responding to the blatant racism and oppressive systems to people of color in our country and show solidarity and work for change, all while trying to keep a respectable six feet apart when we are together out of our homes. But this book group has been different because it’s focused on hope.

We’re using Ann Lamott’s book, Almost Everything: Notes on Hope, these types of books tend to lend themselves well to book groups. It’s been refreshing for several reasons, but honestly, it’s been helpful because this one hour a week focused on writing and on the hope Lamott is striving for has caused me to refocus my own thoughts and sights on hope. It’s helped me to strive for hope in my other meetings and encounters. This one hour a week has changed my viewpoint and helped me to focus on one of the key things that Christians are meant to be known for: hope.

I hope whatever you are doing, wherever you are, you’re finding hope. And that you’re not only finding hope, but that you’re working so that others who haven’t had that same kind of hope can now find it in the world.

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