Night shall be thrice night over you, And heaven an iron cope. Do you have joy without a cause, Yea, faith without a hope?
~ G.K. Chesterton, Ballad of the White Horse
It’s always struck me that in moments of grief, we hold candles. For some reason, candles are comforting. Candles mean warmth and safety, and hope. Because even one candle, one flicker of light, can scare away the darkness. One candle in your hand means that the darkness cannot overpower you. In one candle is the hope, the knowledge, that the darkness cannot overcome it.
I want you to try something for me. I want you to look at the world and find something to be hopeful for.
It’s hard. I look at the world, and all I see is hate and death and fear. On a silent night, as I stare into the stars, I see a country on edge after a summer of deaths and protests. I see a nation struggling for unity after a bitter, contentious election. No matter where I look or what I listen for, the sounds of hate and violence seem to echo and multiply.
And even when the human elements quiet, Covid remains. As the holidays approach, I see an unemployment rate that’s almost double that of last year. I see more homeless people sleeping in the streets because Covid precautions mean that shelters can’t hold as many occupants. I see nursing home patients unable to see their families. I see parents trying to keep their families fed and safe and sometimes having to choose which one to prioritize. I see 258,000 Americans dead and an estimated 2.3 million immediate family members mourning them. And no matter where I look, there is no easy end to any of this.
And yet, somehow, I am hopeful.
I’m hopeful because even amid the summer protests, Daylan McLee went out of his way to save a police officer trapped in a burning car. Even though he’d been pulled over several times without reason. Even though a false accusation from a cop had put him behind bars for a year. At that moment, it didn’t matter because, as McLee saw it, “This man is my brother through Christ, and I couldn’t leave him behind.”
I’m hopeful because 3600 people reached out to support a 4-year-old boy who lost both parents this year. There are thousands more around the world doing the same thing without recognition. Maybe they’re donating money. Maybe they’re preparing meals for the homeless or delivering food for the elderly. Maybe they’re just caring for the children of essential workers. It doesn’t matter. Even now, at the end of a rough 2020, people are doing what they can, no matter how small, to help someone they may never meet.
But most of all, I am hopeful because on a silent night long ago, one star stood out in the darkness above all the rest, and now this candle means something. Because the darkness has already lost. And we know how this ends.
Happy first week of Advent.
Noelle is a cradle Catholic with a love for adoration and all things football (Roll Tide). She spends her days immersed in stories and air conditioning in an effort to survive the 9-month summer of the Deep South (so far, so good). A romantic at heart, she can occasionally (always) be coaxed into ballroom dancing. For more of Noelle M., visit her blog https://beingevanescent.wordpress.com/ or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org