Throughout the last several weeks, I have been reminded of the places where hope remains hidden in plain view revealed only to those who have eyes to see and to those who possess the courage to move toward it.
I have seen hope...
The faith divide is real in our culture. It is easy to be afraid of and make assumptions about that which we do not understand. Faiths other than our own personal faith can feel other and threatening to our own way of understanding the world. The CIC is an organization that is pursuing peace through interfaith understanding and cooperation. The mission of the organization is to strengthen community in central Indiana and beyond by supporting existing connections between and among faith communities; fostering additional interfaith opportunities through social, cultural, and educational interactions; and connecting interfaith communities through volunteer service and civic engagement. Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to participate in the CIC's annual Festival of Faiths where women and men representing the diversity of the religious landscape of central Indiana came together in downtown Indianapolis to celebrate, learn, eat, and enjoy being with one another. What a joy it was to see Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, Pagans, and more in the beautiful sunlight living life together. The CIC is standing tall for understanding and cooperation in a pluralistic culture that is often characterized by division. In their cooperation...hope.
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in our country. Among young people it is even higher. It seems as though not a week goes by when there is news of yet another person's life ended much too early as the result of suicide. Suicide is a difficult topic to discuss. Therefore, it often remains hidden from the public's view and is only talked about in hushed tones and with shaming words. AFSP exists to silence the stigma around suicide and the root causes of suicide. AFSP exists to provide resources for those contemplating suicide as well as the survivors of suicide. AFSP exists to fund research around suicide, depression, and depressive disorders. AFSP exists to end suicide. Last weekend over 2500 people gathered at the canal in Indianapolis to unite their voices, mourn those they have lost, celebrate the lives of their loved ones, and walk to raise awareness and funds to make a difference. It was moving to see the sea of humanity mobilized to change the way things are. In their steps...hope.
IHN - Interfaith Hospitality Network - www.familypromiseindyihn.org
IHN is "a partnership of congregations and community organizations responding to the crisis of children and their families who are homeless." They are working in the greater Indianapolis area to eliminate homelessness. Each week, families move into a local congregation and are provided with hot meals, rooms to call home for the week, transportation to school, work, and job interviews, and relationships. This week Second Presbyterian Church served as host to the IHN families. Scores of volunteers spent the week cooking, playing, driving, and building relationships with the guests. On Sunday evening as one of the pastors was leaving the sanctuary, he was met by a 5 year old boy who took him by the hand and said, "Come here. I want to show you something." The little boy led him down the halls of the church to one of the rooms on the third floor. He then said proudly with a huge smile on his face, "Look, this is my room." In his eyes...hope.
Building Tomorrow was started by one of my friends, George Srour. It all began when he visited a school and food distribution site in Kampala, Uganda as an intern with the World Food Program. When George saw these young children and experienced their deep desire to learn while meeting in a building that was much too small for their number, one question dominated his mind."What would it take to provide these young people with a new school building?" He went home with the question burning deep within him. He began to work tirelessly toward understanding the communities in Uganda, empowering and employing Ugandan women and men, mobilizing their communities, and providing schools for children who had never had access to an education. Today, Building Tomorrow has finished 17 schools and has begun construction on another seven schools. By the year 2016, BT has a goal of completing 60 schools in Uganda alone. "Each BT primary school has 7 classrooms, an office, a library, toilets, a field for play and learning space for up to 315 students." In their young minds...hope.
Hope is not living in denial of the gravity of the circumstances that surround us. Hope is seeing promise within and beyond those circumstances. Hope is found in the hands at work and in the feet that courageously move forward. Hope is all around us hidden in plain view.
Where is it that you see hope today?