I asked some of my friends to quickly respond by telling me their most boring job. A social worker said paperwork, a singer-songwriter said the details of licensing and contracts, a performer said the long drive home after the excitement of the show. Still another friend said peeling vegetables and folding sheets. (As an aside here is a video on how to fold a fitted sheet a must-see for anyone interested in laughing your head off).
The iconic measure of the boring job is probably the mythical king Sisyphus forced to push a rock up a hill for eternity. Each time he reached the top, it rolled back down again and he had to start again.
The French thinker Albert Camus suggested however that we should imagine Sisyphus as happy because he accepted his punishment and embraced the task, even if it was an absurd task. Others after Camus continue to bat the ball around suggesting that we should see Sisyphus as hopeful. Hopeful because he has seen better days, and in that hope he conditions his mind.
The grind of boredom in the examples my friends gave is usually overcome by the outcomes. Songs get produced, food gets cooked, and one finally gets home after the long drive. But what about the times when hope feels threatened?
Because these are our times, we often say “these days” hope is hard to hold on to. But of course, we know that human life has always been an experience in the shadows of pain and death. And, we know that shadows exist because of light, because we have seen better things and we long for them, and somehow most of the time we find hope in them.
Hope is a noun, and also a verb. Like every good thing, it is best experienced together. Together we find and make hope; together we remember hope, together we can be hope.
This week at eleven:eleven we will tell stories of the shafts of light that appear here and there in the landscape of life. I look forward to seeing you there to talk about all this and to let the music of the Avett Brothers and Widespread Panic open our imagination. See you there!
Throw your nets on the other side Jesus said, and when they did the catch was so great the nets almost broke and the boat almost sunk. They called for help from their mates in the other boat. — a story in Luke’s gospel
Hope is not irrational, it is based on our general experiences of good.