In February 2021 I penned a poem on hope. I was looking for motivation and inspiration in the midst of the uncertainty that has clouded our times. Alone in a forest near my house, starting at the snowy covered trees, I reminded myself that the beauty of this world is indifferent to human affairs. It is eternal and ever present. It will provide and nourish our spirits even when we have been led astray. All that it requires is the cultivation of our attention. That we are present to the complex intricacies that make up our everyday experience.
Wonder and awe fill my being when I contemplate the grandeur and sheer mystery of our universe. I am intertwined in a myriad of interdependent relationships. Related to ancestors and species of the past, many of which I will not know or even have heard of. The human species have existed for 250,000 years in a universe that is estimated to be over 4 billion years old.
There is a kind of solace and comfort provided to me from this vantage point. A wider perspective can be uplifting and make us feel grounded. The importance and stress that we place on seemingly trivial things begin to fade away. We are all part of a much bigger web of life which will endure long after we perish.
The spotlight shines away, egotism recedes as I recognize the shared fate which bounds us all together.
As I am writing this article, a cardinal flies past my bedroom window taking refuge in a tree in my backyard. I momentarily pause, and look closely with reverence. I’ve never seen a cardinal in the winter. But then again, it may have been that I was never really paying attention to the world unfolding right in front of my eyes.
Its bright red feathers reflect against the white glow of the snow-covered tree, radiating across the sky.
Time stops. A moment of eternity. An invitation to the deeper mysteries of the world.
I don’t really know what the future holds, in many ways it is unpredictable far beyond the confines of human control. I am aware, however that the presence and attention I give to the present moment is the gateway to the beauty of the world – the path towards hope. The omnipresent light is always available to us. What we decide to focus our attention on is a choice that is within our control.
As the bird flies away into the receding horizon, I am reminded of the poetry of Emily Dickinson,
"Hope" is the thing with Feathers “Hope” is the thing with feathers - That perches in the soul - And sings the tune without the words - And never stops - at all - And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard - And sore must be the storm - That could abash the little Bird That kept so many warm - I’ve heard it in the chillest land - And on the strangest Sea - Yet - never - in Extremity, It asked a crumb - of me.
What gives you hope and inspiration during times when you need it most?
Let me know in the comments.
This article was originally published on my personal blog A Life of Virtue: Philosophy as a Way of Life – In Search of Inner Freedom
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