The exhausted mother, glassily patting the back of her baby who has filled her ears with pained sobs from dusk to dawn.
The frail old man, carefully folding his lottery ticket into his threadbare wallet as he heads home on the bus to dry crackers for tea.
The unassuming shop owner, taking one last longing look through the dusty front door as she switches the sign from “Open” to “Closed” after another day of no customers.
What keeps us moving forward? Trying our best when we feel we have used every ounce of our resilience?
Why do people get up each day and face the world, when the world yesterday was unfair, cold and uncaring?
Why after nights filled with terrors of not being able to pay bills, or feed their family, do business owners continue to open and share their wares?
Hope for a better tomorrow.
That tomorrow, things will change if they just make it through today.
Hope that if they just find one last second wind, take one last action, discover one last skerrick of courage, that they will make it through.
We live on hope
It is only when we have lost all hope that we drop into despair. When we feel that there will never be a better tomorrow, that all our actions are in vain and that there is no longer any purpose … that’s when our world falls apart.
As someone who has faced the pits of despair, the one thing I do know is that when we are hope-less, that the only way we can rediscover hope and the energy to keep going is through borrowing hope from someone else. To rekindle our flame of hope for tomorrow and tomorrow. Because it genuinely does get better.
That’s why Christmas is so special and magical
No matter your belief or your religion, this time of year is all about rediscovering hope when you have none left. It is a time to rekindle hope through others. And every religion and belief system does this.
Here are just a few celebrations for this time of year:
Bodhi Day (Buddhist) – Day of Buddha’s Enlightenment
Hanukkah (Jewish) – Festival of the Lights, Miracle of the Ritual Oil
Winter Solstice (Pagan – Northern Hemisphere) – Coming of the Light
Christmas (Christian) – Coming of the Christ child
Dongzhi Festival (Asian Countries) – Balance and harmony
Inti Raymi (Inca) – Coming of the sun
Makar Sankranti (Hindu) – Holy phase of transition
Each of these celebrations helps fan our flame of hope. Through their stories of miracles, transitions, and gifts from strangers or from on high, we are reminded that even in the deepest darkness, there is hope for a better tomorrow.
This Christmas, look at the symbols around you
Take each one as a personal message directly spoken to you, “Hang in there. It will get better. Things are turning around”.
Look at the Saturnalia Christmas trees – signs of evergreen life even when everything else is dead. Look at the candles of Jewish Hanukkah – celebrating that resources can sometimes be miraculously stretched to fit. Look at the Santa of many traditions – reminding you that someone somewhere keeps score, and that goodness is rewarded. And to the Christian Nativity, celebrating that sometimes gifts of wisdom come in small packages that may take a few years to be realised.
Accept the gifts that are offered to you – whether they are physical or simply the offer of a listening ear or hug. Don’t be afraid to reach out to accept the gifts offered – even Lifeline Counsellors need you to pick up the phone so that they can share their gift of hope with you.
And remember that you do matter … that your life is important … and that your personal gifts to the world are needed.
No matter your faith – rediscover hope this season
No matter your faith – give hope to others
No matter your faith – celebrate your resilience and all that you have achieved
Because the real Christmas miracle is hope.