What Hope Means

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops hills and valleys of central new york to depict hope“Perhaps expanding on what hope means to you,” a friend wrote in the feedback she gave for my new photo essay book, to be published in May. In the book, Nevergone: Reframing the Death and Grieving of the One You Love, through intricate Photo-shopped pictures and short essays, I explore different ways one grieves and may view death. At the beginning and end of the book I wish for hope for my readers. But I had not expanded on the meaning of hope, even though it is the backbone of the book, and a vital resource for surviving tough times.

When immobilized by a problem, like writing about hope or being grateful, I make lists. It’s a way to stop procrastinating and begin to wade into the challenge painlessly. So my problem of hope became a list.

What hope means. To me:

Believing in new possibilities, believing there is more.
Light in the darkness.
Emily Dickinson’s “thing with feathers that perches in the soul.”
Positive thinking, Wishing.
Something that makes us stronger and braver than we ever believed we could be.
Daring to imagine that everything will work out okay.
The thing that encourages me to keep living, loving, searching, …singing to the moon, despite what life has thrown at me.
The voice in my head that whispers “maybe” when all else is screaming “no way.”

At nighttime I took the problem to bed, and when morning came, I took it with me on a hike in the deep dark woods. There, on steep slopes covered with decayed leaves and the debris of winter thawing, growing wedged between rocks and fallen branches, I found tiny wildflowers called snowdrops blooming brightly in sparse patches of light.

 

What does hope mean to you?

 

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12 thoughts on “What Hope Means

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    This is wonderful news about the photo-essay book, Robin. May? That’s in a few days. Congratulations since your images are full of hope.
    Like you, I find much hope in the way life cycles on. Snowdrops, the few magnolia flowers that survived the April freeze, chickadees nesting where I wanted bluebirds to nest, seeing an owl in Cambridge on the day after my brother’s death. The lupines when Vic died. The chestnut trees when my brother died.
    Hope is what I feel when a sense of the Sacred enters a situation that’s outwardly impossible, sad, and threatening.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      It’s very neat, Elaine, how I can see so much when you write. You don’t need to Photoshop anything. It’s all shining brightly in your words. All those flowers and birds, the nesting, the surviving. A freeze in April. Hope – a sense of the Sacred – scary and beautiful.

      Reply
  2. susanb

    Hope was lost when our children took their last breath and their hearts stilled. Losing hope had me contemplating if my life was worth living. But hope grew again from the ashes. Now my hope is fed by memories and humbling lessons of learning this life is so much than being just about me. what a relief to know im not alone and so many people hold my hand – those that came before and have gone ahead. I’ve got all the hope in the universe if I’m willing to believe its mine to have. I look forward to your book Robin.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      It’s a good thing hope can be found in surprising places. Because it does get lost here and there. Even still, sometimes. It gets lost and then life is just too colorless and difficult. Despairing. And luckily it gets found. Here and there and when you think you’ll never laugh again – there’s hope. I think it’s like investing in stocks and bonds. My father used to tell me to diversify, “Don’t put everything you have into one place.” Look for all the hope in the universe so when it leaks out of one thing it’s still waiting for you in another. Cheers, Susan.

      Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thank you, Beryl. Welcome to my online home. I’m hoping so much that my work will be helpful or inspiring to people.
      It’s good to hear from you. Please come often.

      Reply
  3. Jill Swenson

    Big news here on a new photo essay book! Congratulations! The collages and photo-shopped images you have posted here are beautiful and I’m glad they will soon be available in print.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thanks, Jill. It’s just a little book. But thought I’d try self-publishing on a small level in a different genre. I got the first proof yesterday and it is so neat to see and hold this small gem that represents so much of my time and heart. Once these are out I’m hoping to get the courage to finally start querying my manuscript.

      Reply
  4. Annette Corth

    Another lovely, moving image! Hope to me means sleeping another night without pain. It means that my heart with its replaced valve will keep pumping long enough for me to keep enjoying my friends and family, keep my garden beds going yet another season, keep in check the dementia that is lurking in my shadow.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      I can almost hear your nightly prayer here, Annette. Sleep, friends and family, flower garden – wishes and hope. You, however, are “sharp as a tack,” as they say. I see no signs of dementia. You must be very skilled at keeping it “in your shadow.” But really, if it hasn’t leaked out by now, it’s most likely not going to be an issue. For you. The rest of us, twenty or thirty years your junior, can’t remember how old we are or where we left the car-keys or how to spell words with more than four letters – well we’ve gotta worry.
      Wishing you lots of painless, friend and flower-filled time.

      Reply
  5. Margaret

    After two long years of depression, walking through the familiar woods near home, suddenly I heard a winter wren singing the most beautiful song. It stopped me dead in my tracks and filled me with this unfamiliar “full” sensation – a “great fullness,” or joy. To know I could experience joy again gave me hope. That little wren was my hope.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      I hope you find many more little wrens, Margaret. Birds and birdsong – that has to be the greatest gift on Earth. I may have to buy one of those CDs of sounds of birds for next winter. When I walked outside today and heard the sweet singing of birds, I realized how much I’ve missed it all winter, and how soothing a sound it is. The sound of hope, yes, you got it.

      Reply

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