October 15, 2016

The Nature of Hope

Since college, I have seen deep truth in the natural world. In clouds, the moon, trees, grains of sand and many, many more instances, I see bone-deep wisdom reflected back to me. These moments of wisdom have given me great peace, security, and insight.

I used to think everyone could read nature this way. After college, I had the privilege of writing the opening for an email newsletter that went out every week to a large group of people centered in the Kansas City metro area. My writing was usually about one or more of these insights that I saw. After several people told me they had never considered such a thing before, I felt more and more grateful for being able to see this hope, these insights of truth, in nature.

This last week I saw a new analogy, and it gave me such hope that I want to share it with others, too.

I had to drive for an appointment, and as I drove alone, I watched the sky. A large front of clouds moved across the windshield. The front wasn't severe enough to birth a large storm, but it was still impressive. I watched the clouds and thought of my sister, who lives on the West Coast. She's mentioned more than once that she misses thunder. Only the plains of the Midwest have the open space necessary to build the massive thunderstorms and fronts that generate hail or even tornadoes. Anyone born and raised in the Midwest knows the change in the air that signals "Storm coming." The worst storms don't accelerate gradually; they explode all at once. The air in front of them feels tense, charged with a feeling that something is coming. The literal 'calm before the storm' isn't peaceful. It's eerie.

The insight that brought me such hope came when these thoughts on thunderstorms overlapped with our political system.

Our nation, for all its flaws, is a wide open space for opinions. Negative, public opinions of our leadership have been aired widely for more than two hundred years. (Trust me. Even George Washington was sneered at in the newspapers of his day.) These wide spaces allow huge storms of opinion to blow up. Every four years, the storms get so big and wreak such havoc that we question if life as we know it will end. This year I've seen multiple voices insisting that if this person (or that, from the opposing side) become President, the apocalypse will come. Right now, I see the storm building. The air is tense. We're dreading the moment the storm breaks, but at the same time we just want this to be over. Many of us are willing to take whatever might be on the other side of the storm, just to get rid of the stress and dread of waiting for it.

Just like storms in the Midwest, the storm breaks and will eventually end. On January 20, 2017, no matter which candidate wins the election, our current president will hand over his position to the winning candidate.

Stop for a moment and allow yourself to realize the amazing nature of that sentence. No other nation in the world has a history of more than 200 years with regular, war-free revolution. The United States has the largest military capacity, the greatest economic sway (though this is changing), and a huge international political impact. These massive juggernauts of power are given to the winning candidate's party every four years. Without fail. Regardless of whether the incoming president aligns with the outgoing president or not. They may have everything in common, or they may not agree on anything. The winning candidate still enters the White House. The outgoing leader still leaves.

The political storms are huge this year. I hate them. I am encouraged greatly to realize that even this line of storms will break, play itself out, and the skies will clear. Period. Knowing that, I truly am willing to face any outcome of the storm's impact. Even if the sky is now green, winds are moaning, and hail is spitting right now, be encouraged: we can survive even these storms.

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