Jessie De La Cruz, a retired migrant farm worker, is quoted in “Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith in Troubled Times” by Studs Terkel as saying “With us, there’s a saying, La esperanza muere ultima. Hope dies last. You can’t lose hope. If you lose hope, you lose everything.”
Perhaps hope and despair are closely related, with not much separating the two, as fans of a certain Ontario based professional hockey team would acknowledge. And down on the streets of London, at times there is not much separating hope from despair. As I meet some of the individuals who visit our buildings and participate in our programs, I am struck by how much hope there is among those who appear to be in hopeless situations. And there is substance to that hope. It is not simply a hope that circumstances will change because of a change in political management, or an introduction of community strategies or plans. The hope I see is much deeper than that. It’s the look in the eyes of my neighbour when a smile is received, because the smile is proof that my neighbour is not alone but part of a community.
St. Paul asks the question, “who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently”, or with endurance. This waiting with endurance, waiting patiently, suggests the ability to bear up under trials that come our way. As I get to know some of the men in our community, I am struck by their ability to bear up under trials that come their way. These neighbours, our neighbours, have a lot to teach me, to teach us, about bearing up under trials that come our way. Their hope gives me hope too. And sometimes, just sometimes, the sharing and spreading of hope is as easy as a smile. Together as a community, let us make this a great season of hope.