What do you do in times of darkness, when even the idea of hope has become elusive?
What does hope look like to you?
How do you know it when you see or feel it?
For me, taking maybe too literally the symbolism in Emily Dickenson’s famous poem “Hope is the Thing with Feathers,” I always find hope in the early signs of spring.
Forget the groundhog stuff. That’s just mean. That little rodent shows up on the second day of February every year — way too early — to inflate our hopes for an early spring, only, most years, to then bury them in a crush of ice and show, a long last blast of winter.
No, real hope is different. It arrives softly, landing gently, sometimes when you least expect it. Often when you’ve all but given up.
And today, considering the events of last week and heck, the whole past year, hope came to me suddenly, brought into view by a tangible representation of my faith and the resilience it always provides against the darkest of times.
Hope is a thing with feathers. In this case, quite literally, in my own personal favorite reminder that spring is nearly here.
“Did you see the robins?” A friend asked me the other day, “They’re migrating!”
I hadn’t. And my heart and soul were in a very dark place after the devastating news of our nation surpassing half a million COVID deaths this past year and the little boy who froze to death in Conroe Texas last week. Personal struggles aside, this was soul-crushing news.
Then yesterday, my heart warmed, and a broad smile bubble up from somewhere deep within me as I saw not one or two robins, but dozens of them, everywhere I looked. Happily hopping (as they do) alongside the road, across my back fence, literally everywhere I looked.
According to some, the Robin signifies the stimulation of new growth and renewal in many areas of life. In the natural world, the energy of this colorful little bird is said to inspire us to grace, tenacity, compassion, and patience by incorporating faith and trust in the inspiration we receive.
No, seeing the robins didn’t erase any pain. It was all still there. But there was something else there, too. The reminder that reached deep within me to renew the promise of our faith that there is always something better coming, the certainty of the light my faith brings into any darkness that cannot be overcome.
God is with us in our darkness; God reminds us in ways that are personal to each of us that in the darkness of our winters, Spring is always coming.
Melinda Folse Smoot is a writer, editor, collaborator, and content strategist. In addition to her work for FUMCFW, she has a deep passion for telling stories that make a difference. With a focus on faith, grace, hope, and spirit for faith-based organizations and other clients, Melinda is always on the lookout for people with inspiring stories to share. If you have a story of faith you’d like to share, please contact Melinda at email@example.com.