On Sunday we began a month-long series of services on the theme of hope. Three friends shared thoughts on hope, we sang hymns/songs that expressed a variety of writers' understandings of hope, we broke bread and we prayed. As I led intercessions, I found myself using the phrase 'may their hope be active, may their hope be strong', echoing the thoughts others (and indeed I) had shared.
Yesterday I enjoyed a long walk (around nine miles) about half of which followed the River Clyde into the city centre. The sky was blue, the sun was bright (dazzling if you turned south-east). The path itself varied... in places it was completely clear and dry; in places it had sparkly white frost; in places it was sheet ice. But whatever the underfoot conditions, it led me to the city centre. And I think that's a bit like hope. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it is challenging but fun, sometimes it is hard work and even risky (the mother of fools, as the Lithuanian proverb would express it), but it keeps on - it is active; it is strong.
In the afternoon, I settled down with a book, a cup of tea, and an iced bun. The news alert on my smartphone disrupted my reverie, as I heard and read that Scotland (and within a few hours the entire UK) is back in lock down. I absolutely think this is the right call, and is, ultimately, a hopeful - or hope-filled - call that will help control this deadly virus. It needs action. It needs strength. It isn't fun, it isn't what we want, but it is what will lead us on the journey to a brighter future.
I chose this photo to share not just because I loved the sparkly frost on the path, but because it shows the destination as well as the route towards it . Of course we need to look down and check our footing (even doing so, on a couple of previous days' walks I ended up flat on the pavement!) but we also need to look up and look around us... savour the beauty of the moment in which we find ourselves, and catch a fresh glimpse of where we are going.
Locking down again is hard, disappointing, frustrating - but it's just another stage on the journey to the future. As we journey onwards, may our hope be active, may our hope be strong.