Last week, from October 12-15, 2021, we hosted the annual meeting of elected leaders of the Dominican Sisters Conference (DSC). For most members it was a virtual experience, technically facilitated by our excellent Communication Department led by Alice Black.
What I want to share with you about that meeting is not the decisions we made or the things that took place, but its theme: Hope Happens. So what follows are part of my opening remarks adapted to suit a wider audience of readers. The topic of hope is so important and needed, I thought you might be encouraged by a few words about hope. And how it happens.
It seems too obvious to say that a lot has happened for all of us this past year in our families, parishes, communities. All of us have known unexpected circumstances that challenged us and have might even made us question our path sometimes. Personal circumstances like COVID illnesses, changes in economic conditions, or other life-changing events, call to mind that life is fragile for everyone, not only those who are advanced in age or frailty or are vulnerable to COVID.
Change happens at a moment’s notice. Hope happens when we notice it. This time is an invitation to be in a season of hope. And I dare say that all of us have been searching for sources of hope.
In many ways, our country is more divided than ever, more segregated, and more tribal than ever. And sometimes it feels like hope eludes our grasp. As I was reflecting on these realities, I came to realize how important it is for us to notice hope. To be women of the Gospel is to preach a word of hope, to be a word of hope. It is the sure and certain conviction that God provides –that God works within the choices that we make– that hope happens.
Think for a moment in your own way when you noticed hope. It can come as a surprise sometimes, doesn’t it? Isn’t it a small miracle, that someone says something to you —the right thing to you —and hope erupts? It breaks open in you. Isn’t it a small miracle that hope comes around an unexpected corner? Hope happens because you are paying attention to the possibility that life can be brighter. You are open to noticing it. You lean in toward hope.
I am struck by the gesture that happens when we want to listen more carefully to another person.
Do you find yourself leaning in? Not just to hear more clearly, but to hear more of the heart, to lean into the moment. I invite you to lean in to hope. Pay attention to what might be just around the corner, or as close as the person sitting across the dinner table. Hope happens when we notice it.
We all have been adapting to new ways of thinking and acting this year. We all have had to become more nimble, ready to act at a moment’s notice sometimes. And yet we hold the long view in our sights. God’s view in which we remember that all things work together for good.
And you practice the art of leaning in to hope may you know the truth of the prophet Jeremiah: “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, to give you a future and a hope.”