I named our last home (in Missouri) “Healing House”—it was so clear and strong before I got sick with a fever for nine months that I could hardly doubt it when the dis-ease came. When I realized the irony, I loved it…and I didn’t. Healing did come to that place and I learned how to wait and work for it through what felt to be a very long and dark night at the time.
So, when it came to our river cottage my spirit truly did tremble at what name would come, and in truth, I also shied away from it. But then, without shadow or dismay, Jay knew its name, hope.
It’s only honest to say I have not held tightly to this. I do treasure it, but loosely. If we hold ideas in our souls like a woman embraces a child in her womb, this idea has been swimming in questions. I’ve certainly not broadcasted it. For heaven’s sake, if healing house was where I would be bed-ridden, unwell, and unable to take care of my family…what would happen to me at hope house?
What would it cost…to dwell within hope?
How does an idea birth from our lives, fully developed?
However, even for all my questions, for heaven’s sake, I also cannot forget or lose these words or these names. Heaven has only ever taken care of us, even when I could not understand it as so. I will trust Him again. I decided, I will practice hope.
It took some time but I finally saw that something of the cost has already come. Now I get to decide whether it will cost more, whether I will let it cost me everything. What do I mean by these words?
I recently said I had lost hope about something and then it occurred to me that hope may be just as I have discovered love: a thing to know IS as it is. A thing reliable and true, even when I am not. Perhaps hope is a sure-and-steady thing, not a flimsy-maybe-of-a-thing that I have held it as in my mind?
We speak of hope as a thing we can lose or gain. Maybe there is something true to that, but also in truth I’ve never really stopped to consider my own perception and meaning behind those words. Surely we have the choices available to us to grab hold of something, we likewise have the guile for wiliness to find our footsteps slippery when wet from grief, real grief. Life becomes less a thing about gaining advantage and rather a thing to survive. We slip, we fall… If we believe “hoping” is entirely up to us we may think our falls are endings. But what if we knew, really knew, that falling or running, choosing or loosing, hope remains?
In The Love Writings I meditated on the famous passage about love in 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient…kind…” Once I wrote about love I shifted my attention to faith (faithfulness) because that passage I had spent so much time on ends like this: “Now these three things remain: faithfulness, hope, and love.” I came to see, through the course of writing and meditating on these things, that “what remains” is a brilliant way of expressing what I had learned.
I had not learned a need to add to or to create love or faithfulness, I had learned, a little bit better, to see what IS. This was, yet again, another of my “lost” experiences—that overwhelming sense of being lost only to turn and recognize I was as profoundly found as I felt desperately lost.
I am not unusual in this. We all do this. Learning is hard. Yet further, “learning what remains” costs. “Learning what remains” by definition indicates loss.
I will say to my soul, HOPE yet again.
My way of speaking to my own soul, is to write. It seems like it is time to write about hope because there are almost zero times in my life that I can remember saying I have lost hope about anything. That may seem to make me some kind of Pollyanna, but the people who know me truly could tell you that is not the case. It can be a gift though, something that came to me more than I cultivated it on my own, like a ground beneath me that I was born to.
Yet, there have been costs and loss—in your life and in mine. We are not called to be blind to these things. No, it is essential that we face them. It may take us some time to recognize it, but the cost has already come, now we get to decide whether it will cost more, whether we will let it cost us everything.
What do I mean by these words? What would it cost…to dwell within hope? How does an idea birth from our lives, fully developed?
We are all born to certain grounds beneath our feet. If we have breath we have been given gift. This is so important to see and to hold, to have vision enough of the miracle we swim in to let thanks be found regularly on our tongues. Yet, the nature of what is given is that it can and also will be taken away.
I was standing in a moment by the river a few mornings past, a moment of apprehension that the last of my frozen-morning-breath had been breathed and now it was all invisibly one with the warmth of morning. I watched it disappear into the warmth. It was fantastic! It was alive. It was also symbolic of loss and a story of grief watching what was mine expiring in front of my eyes before I could do anything about it. What loss and pregnant grief we swim in.
It is not for me to deny this nor is it for me to only see this, this grief. Rather, with two hands, it is for me to hold both generosity and loss as miracle as much as the tide washes in…and out. Where is hope to be found in these, whether it be generosity or loss and cost, that we currently experience? Hope is the unmovable ground beneath them all.
Hope remains, not being added to nor taken away from, depending on the circumstances. I am not to turn off my mind, either to despair nor to the deceit that would tell me hope is movable by events or the current state of affairs or my feels. Loss is real. Grief is to be borne without shame. Also, hope remains.
“I love you”, that is what I hear the voice of Hope speak. The frozen dew on the leaves become droplets of warmth, no longer icy from the night, just like my breath. I blink, it has vanished.
Dew bending the blades of grass, dripping with sustenance for its ground beneath or waiting to be harvested by the sun to become one with the air and clouds, we are surrounded by wonder.
“I love you.”
The color of sapphire used again and again throughout Scripture, throughout the world, the color of water and sky, the color of continuity and vastness, perseverance and depths untold—these things are wisdom all around us, all. of. the. time, story waiting to be received through color?! Incredible.
What do I mean by these words? What would it cost…to dwell within hope? How does an idea birth from our lives, fully developed?
What if hope holds and is a house much bigger than my little river cottage? What would it cost to dwell there? Maybe it’s not the prices that first come to mind. Maybe it has more to do with a recognition of the overgrown parts of ego that need pruned, cut away. Maybe it has more to do with the loss of our own bright ideas and wisdom, maybe it is a humbling? A place of looking up and around and seeing what we are surrounded by and the loss of the burden of imagining we have to build and keep secure our own peace-of-mind, “hoping” like a Pollyanna, rather than looking up and around and yes, even down, to see we are already secure, surrounded, safe.
How does an idea birth from our lives, fully developed? I finally realized that the secret there is—like a woman in labor can eventually learn to release, trust, and relax into the truth that not only is life birthing through her, she herself is also being born—we all can learn that to birth life, ideas, faith, hope, love… we must be born.
This is truly difficult. Do not be dismayed if it seems so, do not call yourself a “failure”. It is not a sign of weakness nor of strength, it is a sign of fruitfulness, of life! Ask any mother; life-bearing is hard work. It often feels like a lonely work. Don’t add shame to that or the burden of the lie that somehow those feelings don’t belong here. Oh they belong! They are signposts of truth. Life-birthing through us requires support in its best form, we benefit from help. These signposts of difficulty are our call to call out for the help we need, not a sign of failure.
To be born is to release, trust, relax into a death of sorts… we practice this every night as we fall asleep, “a small death”. Every woman goes to a place of death in childbirth. Whether she is anesthetized or heads to the woods to labor. There’s no escaping design. But there can be damage in the process, fears that overwhelm, lies that dishearten to the point of the loss of strength—these are the costs we must not add.
Yes, it costs to hope. It costs our pride. Beyond that HOPE is a Giver to know, not another benchmark to fail or succeed at. To think it is a goalpost is to think far far too much of ourselves. We are marvelous creatures but we are NOT the Source of hope. We know this on most levels, but we don’t always know how to LIVE like this practically. We don’t always know how to practice a thing that we spend more time thinking we can lose or gain.
Today I wonder if you’d like to practice with me? Practice knowing that the cost of living in a House of Hope is to stop long enough to breath in the reality of the gift that we are here. We are surrounded by the always remaining pillars of faith, hope, and love. We are grounded upon a firm and immovable foundation that is yet still more like a magic carpet than a static thing. Oh yes, hope has wings!
Today, let’s practice the flight of a woman in labor, who dies to herself in order to live and to birth life. Let’s open our hands, breathe deep in trust and wonder. For heaven’s sake, let’s not forget or lose these words or these names.
I have decided to practice hope and that means seeing HOPE exists whether I choose it, or feel it, or believe it…or not.
Some ways to practice hope:
- When I feel that I have *lost hope* I will remind myself that I am as profoundly found as I feel desperately lost. I live in Hope House, no matter where I am. I will make my dwelling there.
- I will recognize that it may cost me my ego and my pride to dwell here in shalom, but it need not cost the damage of shame or fear that steals all of my joy, that darkens my vision, and costs everything and everyone. (I cannot give life when I let my own be stolen.)
- When I feel the weight of burden that comes from believing I develop hope more than it develops me, (the sign of this is guilt) I will remember how a mother is shaped, from the inside out. A child and a mother are both miracle, not one more than the other.
- I will let these truths steady me in the reality that I swim in lovingkindness—there is enough s p a c e for me to be fully human. I will breathe deep from my belly as I remember that I am allowed to feel grief and loss all while knowing doing so does not steal hope, no—hope remains. and remains. and remains.
- I will not be surprised if tears are the sign of these things being true. I will not entertain the lie that tells me sorrow has nothing to do with hope. I will remember I was designed with tears. Like the dew bending the blades of grass, dripping with sustenance for its ground beneath or waiting to be harvested by the sun to become one with the air and clouds, I am surrounded by wonder. It is the ground I walk on, the air I breath, the reality inviting me to fly.
As a woman with child, and as a child within a womb, we are growing full and complete within. The great teacher and apostle Paul spoke of watching and waiting for Messiah to form within his students. He said, “Messiah in you” was the hope of glory! What was this reality he spoke of and how do we live into it?
How do we move from not only hope but a “hope of glory”? I am more certain than ever that it has a lot to do with dwelling within Hope House. And if that’s not clear to you what I mean by that yet, I mean look around, you. are. there. My invitation to you is to lean into fully being here. Anxieties, griefs, questions—all of it. Hope remains, like a friend. Hope teaches us the way to be fully here, no matter what, because we have a firm foundation to BE upon.
This will look like an unfurling of soul. If you’ve read this far in my letter to you today I’m guessing you are hungry for that like I am. So, the last couple of months, I took a short break from my other book(s) and I’ve written and re-written and edited and added art (from my family!) and poems from my journals to a booklet to be a companion to you in your own traversing the wilds of what it means to live with such a hope.
It’s called Grow Gently, A Companion as You Learn to Express Your Soul. It is small but concise, at a total of 33 written pages, it offers an invitation as well as inspiration alongside practical tools wherever you find yourself. I wanted you all to be the first to know that it is going up and live for pre-order today for a mid-June arrival date! If you’re interested you can check it out at my family’s indie publishing store: Untold Wonder Press
“The unfolding of Your words gives light…” -Psalm 119:130
hello there, I’m Raynna. I’m glad you are here. And, I’m glad to be here too. I’m grateful for a space to process out loud the things I am learning and growing in, I’m grateful for kind traveling companions to share it with. I’ve been following MrJayMyers around for a little over 21 years now and homeschooling our six-pack along the way. This is where I share our adventures and grow as a writer and photographer. Seriously, thanks for being here, thanks for sharing my work, thanks for being.
P.S. To all of my dear readers, friends, and family: THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT. I could never tell you in words how much it means, heaven knows. I am so excited about finally being so close to putting my new booklet into your hands. Jay, as usual, did beautifully at designing and formatting it. I’ve included some of his illustrations, as well as some of my son River’s and my daughter Selah’s.
If you read the digital version or the article this booklet is based on previously, it is much the same but also expanded and includes a couple original poems of my own, alongside their art. If you are like me, I like to hold words in my hands, I like to make notes in the margins, and scribble more in the back in the journal pages, and then I like to hand it off to someone else. I hope you’ll do all of the same, make this tiny book your own in big ways, and then pass it on.
If you are new around these parts… A few years ago I wrote a book to serve as a companion in prayer in your own adventures, Pray, Like a Woman in Labor, it is available on amazon or Untold Wonder Press.
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