The Opposite of Despair

We have long lived in an area of the mountains where we often lose our power during winter storms. The wind howls, the snow slices the air sideways, and our electricity goes out. The first power outage of the season usually catches us off-guard. After that, we know to have flashlights and candles handy.

This year, as I scrambled to light a match during that first rush of panic at the unwelcome plunge into darkness, it occurred to me that, during a blackout, the light of one candle can dispel all hovering troubles. There is plenty of darkness out there, just beyond the pool of pale light, but right here, where we stand, the brightness we have is enough.

Optimism, I have come to believe, is a holy quality. Pessimism is so easy to fall into, a bucket of murky stuff from which we do not emerge without conscious effort. Pessimism is the devil’s work, a darkened mindset that drains us of energy and light. Optimism must therefore come from God, who is the opposite of despair.

During Advent, each candle lit is a nod for hope. A flicker of courage.  A flame of affirmation. On each subsequent day of the Advent season, we come closer to the revelation that, seen in God’s light, the world is not so bad. A purple, a purple, a pink, and one more purple, and we burn along with them in the growing hope that the world is ready to blaze again with the glory of God incarnated.

 

4 years 2 months ago
I realize that the point about optimism and lighting a candle is related to the season, but I'd like to suggest that we try being realistic, rather than optimistic or pessimistic. Rather than setting out to see things in a certain way, why not just try to see them as they are?

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