759. On Hope and Fear in Birthing Hope

759. On Birthing Hope in Birthing Hope.jpg

In Birthing Hope: Giving Fear to the Light, author Rachel Marie Stone writes:

“Hope: believing that some alleviation, some hand to hold or some hands to hold us, some ark, some higher place is always on its way, that our suffering, our struggle, our death, even, somehow generates life of some kind; leads to some homegoing, some rescue, some return: salvation.”

I first read Birthing Hope last summer. The title attracted me given my current work on a manuscript about hope, plus the book’s cover is gorgeous. I’ll admit I read it rather quickly, looking for how Stone developed the topic of hope. The writing was beautiful, yes, and the story and rumination compelling, yet I’ll admit it left me puzzled. The title had given top billing to Hope, while Fear held secondary billing in the subtitle position, yet the book’s primary gaze was on fear not hope. Hope is so often linked with desire that this way of looking at hope as linked to fear took me by surprise. I had to think about it awhile.

Late last fall, I reread the book and what came forward to me was the title’s first word: Birthing. Birthing is what is front and center. In the context of fear, when living with fear, what is the role of hope? The author likens the ability to hope in spite of fear to the birthing process, where labor is indeed frightening, but the hope for the new life to come keeps the delivering mother moving forward.

Stone continues:

“There’s a bit of false etymology that’s grown up around the word hope, and I like it, even though it’s not true. Hope, some people have claimed, comes from the word for hoop. I like it because hope should be round. Hope, like wholeness, like holiness, years for healing, resolution, closure. Hope believes that the circle will indeed be unbroken, by and by.”

The metaphor of labor, with its attending fear and hope, includes each one of us: aren’t each of us giving birth to something, waiting for newness and life to emerge?

What are your thoughts on hope and fear? I’d love to know.

~~~

[Photo: taken of a slice of the book’s cover.]

Excerpt used with permission.

748. A reminder of the journey

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This past week I put back on my finger a ring I bought in Santa Fe during my first MFA residency, 13 years ago next month. I wrote about this ring in a chapter of Finding Livelihood.

I crossed the street to the Palace of the Governors. Blue, green, and burgundy blankets laid side-to-side in a row the length of a city block as if ready for a picnic if the goods don’t sell. On the blankets were pendants, necklaces, earrings, rings, guitar picks, barrettes, and broaches made of silver, copper, turquoise, coral, and lapis. Each Native American artist or artist’s representative presided over his or her wares from the head of the blanket, seated either on a chair, a low stool, or the veranda floor.

Small crowds gather at each blanket, and so patrons often wait for a turn to look down, crouch, pick up, and try on. I saw a ring but couldn’t reach it. The young woman with long black hair, seated on a stool, smiled and reached out with a long narrow stick she kept on the floor next to her. She slid one end of the stick through the ring’s opening, lifted it from its black velvet display box, and glided it dangling from the stick to my hand. I slid the ring on my finger.

“Did you make this?” I asked.

“Yes,” the woman said, and she showed me where the band bore her maker’s mark.

It was a split ring, open in the middle—for design purposes of course, but also conveniently accommodating the changing ring size of women throughout a lifetime or the month, like elastic in a pair of durable pants. On one side of the split is an oval turquoise, more blue than the earrings and with fewer veins. Along the stone’s perimeter, a hefty sterling silver band curves ever so slightly over its surface as if the stone were floating on hidden water and would bounce right up without the metal’s angled hold. The other side of the split is a vertical silver bar. Engraved in the silver bar and around the band is a zigzag design—a mountain range, the woman told me. It means journey.
— Finding Livelihood: A Progress of Work and Leisure

After buying the ring, I wore it daily for years but then took it off awhile back—no reason—and put it in my drawer. Lately, though, I've been needing the reminder again of the journey. Maybe it's the book project I'm working on. Maybe it's the conversations I've recently had. Maybe it's the passage of time. So I'm wearing it again. Maybe someone reading this post needs the reminder as well.

~~~

[Photo: taken of the mountains outside of Santa Fe.]

744. I was younger yesterday

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Today I have something fun to tell you about, a blast from the past. A new and ambitious friend, Greta Holt, has started a blog about courage, but not the kind of courage that sends you parachuting off a plane or climbing Mount Everest, although I suppose it could. The courage she's writing about is "mostly the quiet kind," meaning the courage that can fill any ordinary day for her readers. As Greta puts it, this courage is "the listening, helping, working and thinking kind." Greta recently read my first book, Just Think: Nourish Your Mind to Feed Your Soul, and asked if she could include one of its section as a blog post. Of course I said yes. Please please click through to her blog, "Courage and Humility: Explorations" and read "Math, Wisdom, and White Sand" ("I was Younger Yesterday" was its original title in JT). While you're there, I hope you'll dig into some other posts in her brand new and very thoughtful blog.

~~~

[Photo: taken last fall at an exhibit at the American Swedish Institute here in Minneapolis: "100 Days of Creative Balance" by designer and artist Tia Salmela Keobounpheng. To see many more photos of this exhibit, click through at the link to go to her page at MN Artists.]