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"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness."
- Desmond Tutu

Unpacking Hope

I wish that hope was shiny and bright.  That it fit neatly in a stocking or tucked all pretty under the tree.  But hope can't exist without lack.  As Paul says, "Who hopes for what they have?"  

These words and prayers and poems try to hold the tension of both the night and the promise of the light.  Read about my Hope Week cancer scare.  Watch Zachariah resist the vulnerability of hope.  Listen to songs of promise in a minor key.

As you advent softly, consider.  What if hope was not a discipline to enact, but a grace to receive?  What if all you have to do is name the night, open your hands, and wait?

The Light is coming.

Zechariah & the Tension of Hope

Click on the gallery below for a contemplative reading from Luke 1:8-20 (MSG)

Songs of Hope

Click on the songs below for songs of hope.  Expect deep notes, minor keys, and palpable longing.

Image by Davies Designs Studio

Poems of Hope

These poems, from my journal, were written during past hope weeks.  Don't expect polished edges, here.  It's a little too raw for that.

"Waiting for the Knife"
A journal poem from hope week, 2021

On Tuesday, the doctor

told me I might have cancer.

Next week, after removing an organ,

we will know for sure.


Here we are in Hope Week,

and truly it’s making me rage.

“I don’t want hope,” I railed at God.

“I want it to be better.”


Hope is ugly vulnerable.

Hope is the longing

– aching–

for something unpossessed.


Hope is gnawing lack.

Hope can be disappointed.

After all. Generations died in the desert

before the Messiah came.


I imagine suffering.

I imagine cancer.


I cried.


“I know,” He said. “I know.”

And those nail-torn hands

stroked my hair

as I watched the lights on the tree.


He knows, I said.  He knows.

This flesh-wrapped God

was born

to know.


“I would never ask you to do

what I would not.

I came for this moment.

I came for you.”


I still just want Him to fix it.

I don’t want

to have to hope.

But as I played out


all the worst-case-scenarios,

I realized that one way or another,

they all end with Him.

And there it was.



Hand in Darkness
Image by Steve Johnson

"God of Slow Art"
A journal poem from advent week, 2022

The walls are bright and open.

You stretch me out, Your canvas,

splayed across the empty space.


Your fingertips are stained

with pigments

the remnant of broken things.


You gather Your brushes

and come near.  Smile.

You are in no rush.


Your paints drip down my face

like mercy.  Colors, curves, a carnival:

who knows what I will be?


No hasty layers here.

Time captures the light in the room

and traps it in my heart.


I love the flecks of gold,

the rough edge of textures,

the subtle fade of hues.


I consent to the time it takes.

I consent to paying attention

to the beauty You create.


Layer on the vibrant shades

or wipe my surface clean.

I would be easy under Your brush.


Lean in, Oh Painter.

Take all the time You need.

Paint Yourself upon my life:


in both the light

and the darker hues.

I accept the beauty and the broken


so long as You

are what remains

on the canvas of my soul.

Art & Photography for Hope 

Click on the gallery below to dive into images - ancient & modern - of Zechariah, hope, light, and darkness.

Prayers of Hope

Ancient prayers.  Breath prayers.  Scripture prayers.  Lean on these or create your own.

Journal Prompts

Use them all, or only a few, or none at all. 

Notice which ones draw you.  Notice which ones repel you.  Create your own.  Draw.  Discuss.  Play.


May these prompts serve as a springboard.



Where in your life would you like to see hope kindled?



Does anything in you resist hope?  Consider the push-back.



Is there anything you would like to receive from Jesus before risking hope?



When have your hopes been fulfilled?  Dashed?  Remember.  What was it like?



What might it be like for God to hold hope for you?  Consider His face, and His delight in you.

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