I’m reading Isabel Allende’s latest work of fiction, Maya’s Notebook. Maya is being raised by her grandmother, Nini, and grandfather, Popo. When Popo dies, Maya’s life completely unravels and she’s caught in the crosshairs of a gang of assassins, the police, the FBI, and Interpol. Nini sends her to a remote island off the coast of Chile with a notebook. It’s here and in the pages of her notebook, she tries to piece together the truth of her life.
She writes this in her notebook not long after she arrives in Chile:
My grandmother would say I’m giving my soul time to catch up to me in Chiloé. She thinks jet travel is not advisable because the soul travels more slowly than the body, falls behind, and sometimes gets lost along the way; that must be the reason why pilots, like my dad, are never entirely present: they’re waiting for their soul, which ends up in the clouds.
Sometimes that’s how I feel about life. Some devastating or unexpected event or experience sideswipes us and completely disorients us. It’s like our life is suspended or we’re watching from afar, waiting for us to catch up to ourselves once again. Hope keeps us from getting lost altogether.
Hope, along with healing and help, are lifelines that tether us so we don’t get lost in the great void of awfulness. Hope promises that the extended outcome will change; that we’re not abandoned in the temporary abyss where we feel swallowed up; that things will get better.
There are two maxims that have served me throughout the innumerable unexpected happenings of my life: (1) It’s temporary; (2) Something good will come of it.
Nothing, absolutely nothing this side of eternity, stays the same. Everything changes either in it’s own time or when acted upon by outside forces. The weather is a constant reminder of the fickleness of forecasts. If I get caught in an unexpected storm of awfulness, I know it’s just a matter of time before the clouds part and I will see the sun again. Sometimes I play little games with myself and embark on an daily treasure hunt of something that’s changed. Maybe I notice a spider’s web that wasn’t there earlier or a new blossoms on a plant on my walk route. Even the awfulness I’m now experiencing is temporary and it will change.
I’ve had the privilege of listening in as people share (it’s more like wailing and railing) the awfulnesses of their lives. Many came back later and shared what blessings they discovered once they got some distance from and had moved through the awfulness. Although they would have rather bypassed the awfulness, they discovered that their character had been deepened or something positive was added to their life as a result of the awfulness. They reported now having a deeper understanding and new wisdom as a result of surviving the temporary awfulness.
The resiliency of the human spirit is awe-inspiring. Hope makes it possible for life to go on. Healing is next … to be continued.
I would be remiss if I didn’t share one of my favorite scriptures on hope:
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:21-23).