Hope Shots

Hope Shots - Pussy Willows
Nearly all hope was shot on the swake this week as we woke to fresh snow again and slithered our way to work on the worst highway conditions of the last three years.  Only twelve hours earlier I had been entertaining my best friend, hope, as I counted eight robins pecking around in the sandy dirt outside our bedroom window to the accompaniment of the chickadees singing from the stand of birch.  But on Thursday morning hope was crushed.

All my plans to show you the dawning of spring week by week through a series of photos was buried in the cold sloppy wetness of another blanket of snow.  Last week after writing to you, I went out with the camera wandering back and forth across the swake taking pictures from different spots filled with hope that spring was finally coming and anxious to share that with you.  Then the snow happened, and it felt kind of like my faith journey does especially before Easter.

I don't really like Easter and I hate Good Friday.  I don't like the somber services of Lent leading up to Easter or the dark despair of Good Friday services.  I struggle frequently with the dogma of organized religion, with the reality that men have declared the Bible as we know it to be truth, with the fact that Catholicism and Protestantism cannot agree on the contents of that source of truth, and with lots of other little nigglies that can very effectively unravel one's hope.  Throughout my life I have held a front row seat in the arena of organized religion believing without doubt because doubt would be sinful, stuffing any doubt into a tiny dark corner.

What foolishness, doubt doesn't sit quietly in the corner.  It wiggles out to ask why at the most inopportune times, challenging you to deal with it straight on.  So I have been.  I have been reading, listening, and wondering.  Wondering why and how things got so screwed up that religion is used to terrorize people or to justify brutality.  Wondering where God is in the midst of another's pain.  Wondering when the church will wake up to the fact that its building and the order of its services don't make the difference but the ability of its people to live a mission will make a difference.  In the midst of all the disillusionment about organized religion I bellied up to the faith bar and asked God to "Hit me with a Hope Shot."

Guess what?  In the middle of the faith quagmire of crushed hope, despair, and struggle a magnificent God arranged Hope Shots.  One of my Hope Shots came in the form of a TV interview with author, Dr. Eben Alexander in which he suggested "Getting to truth starts with a belief in a possibility."  Suddenly it wasn't necessary any longer to have all the answers.  It was okay to have mustard seed faith, tiny little, uncertain faith in a possibility.  Then another Hope Shot arrived on Facebook as a Youtube link to an excerpt from Tony Campolo's message It's Friday But Sunday's Coming.  You can access the 27 minute version at Vimeo  or a 55 minute version at Tony Campolo's site.  If you still need another Hope Shot listen to master storyteller, Walt Wangerin and musician, Ken Medema tell the Easter story.

I will keep visiting the faith bar to request Hope Shots, slivers of belief in a possibility that there is something and Someone beyond my understanding holding the craziness in the palm of His hand.  I lift my Hope Shot to you.  May you too entertain a belief in the possibility that there is a God, that Sunday's coming and that spring will come someday soon to the swake.


  1. Thanks Joy, I appreciate your ability to put into words that which I cannot often express as well as you!

    1. Thanks for reading Life by the Swake I hope it stirs up some dialogue and frees us to face the doubts.

  2. so beautifully written!!!!Someday I would love to visit the Swake!!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement!


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