Active Hope

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP
Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

“Do not be afraid”

There is a low grade anxiety in me these days as we get closer to the new political era that is about to begin. Inauguration Day is making me feel like a dark cloud is on the horizon. Do you feel it too? Scripture says so often, “do not be afraid.” But I am worried.

I fear for the undocumented person, those who depend on the Affordable Care Act that will soon be gutted, and I fear for other people who are depending on this new administration to create something better for them. I suspect a great disappointment is coming.

I feel safe…

I’m a privileged white person, economically secure and I feel safe. I have no fear for my own life and it would be so easy to sit back in my armchair and say, there is nothing I can do.

Active Hope

And so I returned to a familiar book that has me thinking about hope. Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone wrote an incredible book that is so timely for us now, I urge you to read it. In “Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy,” they say:

active-hope_cvrActive Hope is not wishful thinking. Active Hope is not waiting to be rescued by the Lone Ranger or by some savior. [with a small s]. Active Hope is waking up to the beauty of life on whose behalf we can act. We belong to this world. The web of life is calling us forth at this time. We’ve come a long way and are here to play our part. With Active Hope we realize that there are adventures in store, strengths to discover, and comrades to link arms with. Active Hope is a readiness to engage. Active Hope is a readiness to discover the strengths in ourselves and in others; a readiness to discover the reasons for hope and the occasions for love. A readiness to discover the size and strength of our hearts, our quickness of mind, our steadiness of purpose, our own authority, our love for life, the liveliness of our curiosity, the unsuspected deep well of patience and diligence, the keenness of our senses, and our capacity to lead. None of these can be discovered in an armchair or without risk.

I admit, I have been sitting in an armchair wondering how hope might be enkindled anew, how hope could be given at the start of a new political era none of us have seen before. It is a time of anxiety for many. Active hope calls us to connect with others, link arms with new companions, to go more deeply, to resolve more fervently to live and proclaim the Gospel of peace.

Playing my part

This being January, I’m not a big fan of making New Year’s resolutions, but this year is different. I see more clearly that justice will need a strong and clear voice in every corner. My active hope is to find ways to add my voice to those who work for justice. My active hope is that I can play my part in bringing hope to those in need of it.

Dear God,

Let me not be afraid. Keep me be awake to the beauty of life on whose behalf I can act. Ready my heart for engagement, ready my heart to discover the strengths I already have. Lift me out of my armchair, help me to take risks on behalf of those without hope.


Posted in Weekly Word

20 responses to “Active Hope

  1. A few days after the election it came to me in prayer:
    The God Who converted Saul the persecutor of Christians into Paul the evangelizer of all can widen President Trump’s heart to serve all who live in the US.
    That has become my prayer and has given me hope. When the terrified persons share their fears with me, I ask them to join me in this prayer each day. It seems to give them something positive to hold within them.

  2. Bless you for these thought filled, thoughtful words. I will join you in my l.ittle (really little) country chirch tomorrow.

  3. Thank you Anne for the gift of your preaching.
    Deep peace and hope for the future of all God’s People, creatures and our planet earth.

    Sr. Brigid

  4. I too need to be more hopeful as the negative signs keep popping up in front of me. I can feel so discouraged at times and yet I know the Holy Spirit will fill me with the readiness to engage with Active Hope.

  5. Thank you, Anne,
    You wrote what so many of us are feeling. I keep asking God, “Is this a test?” Let us continue to pray for our world and for PEACE.

  6. I will say Amen, Amen, Amen three times, as I remember as well, Jesus asking Peter three times ” do you love me” We are all familiar how Peter responded to his questions and what our Lord replied. When I think about fear and being afraid, I think of Jesus praying at the garden of Gethsemane, the very intense significant night before Jesus crucifixion when death and betrayal occurred. This is how this new political era looks like now. Betrayed but not dead in HOPE. Thanks Sister for your very much hopeful message.

  7. Thanks for sharing what so many of us feel. I think if God could use the Persian
    King , Cyrus in the Old Testament He can use Trump in our time, if only to wake some of us up who have fallen asleep in that too comfortable armchair.

  8. Anne, great sharing! Ever since OP Assembly with Margaret Macy, “Active Hope” has been part of reading, reflection and prayer! And now your timely, powerful reflection adds to my growth! Thanks so much! Am going to join a prayer group Friday instead of watching Inauguration – just can’t bring myself to partake in viewing … will prayer for country and world leadership! God is with us on this journey as always!

  9. Thank you Anne. Yes I hear the message loud and clear.I am waking up to so many things that I must pray about. This is a whole new era.

  10. Hi Anne,
    Thank you so much for your writing! In the past few months i have gone traveled from a sense of grief/despair to one of action and hope. I am marching on Saturday in DC with 20+ like-minded women friends. We are raising our voices for those whom cannot, and will continue to actively contact our VA State and Federal legislators to hold them accountable. We are marching for justice! Hugs and Peace be within you,

  11. Thank you, Anne. Your message is so timely. Active Hope is so needed at this time when it seems like so many people will be left by the wayside.

  12. Dear Anne,

    Your reflection was just what I needed and I already copied the title of your book. When I begin on my class on Saturday, I will share your reflection.
    Much Gratitude., Julia

  13. Thank you Anne. When we see how God takes care of even the smallest of His creatures how can we not have Hope!

  14. Thanks, Anne! Great message and powerful reminder for us these days. In particular, I like the prayer, “Let me not be afraid… Keep me awake to the beauty of life…” [and especially:] “Lift me out of my armchair…to take risks.”


  15. Thank you for this reflection you give good voice to what many of us our feeling. That book will most definitely go on my “to read” list and soon!

  16. I will be one in a car of four from St. Catharine Motherhouse traveling to a rally in downtown Louisville Jan. 21 to literally stand with others who share our concerns about the future. We will listen with our ears and hearts attuned to the needs of the most vulnerable. We want to be “part of the solution,” personal manifestations of Active Hope.

  17. Thanks, Ann. You write for and to so many of us. I think of the work of the pioneering sisters of so many congregations, and how they effectively built the infrastructures in healthcare and education that the U.S. has depended on, and wonder what sort of spiritual, pastoral, just infrastructure-of-spirit we might be called to create or preserve or to raise our voices for today. Government is not going to be the answer.

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