We look up. Look down. Look around.
Feeling weighed down by the tax season. The cost of living along the Central Coast.
Advancing age and the tremors that lurk in the shadows. Quietly, imperceptibly, the tomb closes in. Hopeless.
That’s a land, beyond the horizon, that beckons with a cold comfort — a lie, but a familiar one. Better to live there, than to see our hopes crushed again.
Yet, it’s Easter, when hundreds of millions of people around the world will hear about the resurrection of “hope.” The dictionary says “hope is a belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life. For instance, many people are reasonably confident technology will keep working and lead us all to more fulfilling lives. To a positive outcome.
Maybe so. Maybe that’s where hope should reside — in gadgets and digital impressions, in the almighty market and the manipulations of the financial world. After all, if Wall Street and technology — the best and brightest of modern life — can’t be trusted, what can?
Maybe that’s why instead of “hope,” we substitute “worry.”
Worry about whether the money will be there at the end of the month to pay the bills.
Whether we’ll have a job next week.
Worry whether our kids are all right, whether they’ll go to college, and if so, which one?
Worry about the weather, traffic, what the boss thinks about us, what our co-workers are telling the boss.
Worry about crime and terrorists and the kind of nihilism that causes someone to wipe out a dozen people.
Worry a plane will disappear off the face of the earth, or a ferry filled with kids will capsize, or the burning bus will never evade the out-of-control truck.
Worry about tomorrow, as if there is a tomorrow and as if it is real.
But worry doesn’t change circumstances, nor can it add a moment to our lives. Worry just recognizes that clearly we’re not in control, and that the rest of the world is out of control, and that’s the end of the story.
But, truly, the story doesn’t end there. It’s been said hope deferred makes the heart sick. In other words, we thrive on hopes real and realized.
Without hope, life loses meaning and our decisions to act on behalf of others and for succeeding generations seem futile and nonsensical. For thousands of years, people have hoped for what they did not see, hoped promises would be fulfilled, hoped it would indeed be better for their children and their children’s children.
Hope is not aimless positive thinking that grins when everyone else is grieving. It’s a confident expectation there are answers.
Easter and Passover remind us we pass through this world quickly enough — and hopefully leave behind more than money, tasks accomplished and a tally sheet of wins and losses.
Nothing new under the sun; everything is vanity. Mere vapor.
The prophets were hardly selling road maps to the soul 3,000 years ago — people then as now mourned the loss of possessions, feared for their futures, wondered if their desert wandering would ever end.
No one lacked for idols.
Privileged classes played by their own rules — just as today. Charismatic leaders were around then; now too. Sometimes they really led; other times they led astray.
Religious authorities abounded then — and often, their religion was stifling, lifeless and bound for corruption. And that happens still.
In the classic 1987 Wim Wenders film, “Wings of Desire,” two angels roam the city of Berlin, observing the lives of mortals and listening to their tortured thoughts.
One angel later is attracted to a woman he’s observed and decides to shed his immortality and become human. He tastes food, sees colors, bleeds — and experiences love. The other angel is haunted by the thoughts of a young man who commits suicide, beyond, it would seem, help.
Faith, hope and love — and the greatest of these is love.
We move in the cadence of time, trying to make things better, hoping this outcome will be better than the last, before time itself runs out. Vapor.
More is less and unless something dies, it can’t bring new life. If this isn’t true — what are we doing here?
Easter morning. High on a hill, waiting for the rising of the sun.
Don Miller is the editor of the Santa cruz Sentinel and Monterey Herald. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.