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Sitting with Hope and Courage

". . .There are times we lose hope. Times when our eyes tell us we’re fools to believe beyond what we see here now. . . ."

- Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, from "This Desperate Week the Orchid Reminds Me" -

In the last few days of these unprecedented times, three doorways opened for me: I read Rosemary's poem about orchids; I remembered the chapter on courage in my book; and several friends sent messages about the seemingly non-action of stopping and hunkering down—in the new lingo of COVID-19, to shelter in place even as huge waves of the unknown wash over us. The unknown, in its countless guises, has always lurked around the corner; now we are facing it as a global community.

In the South African veld I witnessed courage as the paradoxical union of fear plus action when a water buffalo stepped out from behind a large hedge and our guide held up his hand signaling us to stop and be quiet. His was an action taken with at least a small internal knowing that fear can be subdued enough to take that first step, then the next. Or in the case of these current times, to courageously stop, sit, be more quiet than we normally are, and listen to the rumbling voice inside of us—perhaps exchange a few words with it, let it speak of what it knows.

And when we do that, when we shake with doubt and fear, our thoughts spinning, hope will appear in the strange feeling of turning our soft bellies and hearts toward whatever comes. We will face the unknowns, not frozen—instead we'll be focused and ready to take an action that is meaningful to that very second and the future, that is counterintuitive to our primal fears. In that moment, we may remember what Rosemerry's poem so eloquently shares:

This Desperate Week the Orchid Reminds Me

It looked dead, the orchid. After long extravagant glory, the blossoms dropped quickly, one by one. The stem shriveled, dried. Every time I looked at it, all I saw was what wasn’t there. People said it would reset. They said it needed rest, a little bit of extra care. But eight months later, the plant still looked dead. There are times we lose hope. Times when our eyes tell us we’re fools to believe beyond what we see here now. But from what seemed like nothing, a long dark stem appeared, lined with buds. And what a fool I was to doubt, to let the eyes lie to me. Already they’ve remembered how to see what will be. Already they remember how to see the beauty of exactly what is here.

- Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, from her poem-a-day blog:


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