A to Z Challenge 2015 · An Encouraging Word · Ann Lamott

H is for Hope

Celebrating the A to Z Blogging Challenge with quotations on the writing life.


I heard a preacher say recently that hope is a revolutionary patience;
let me add that so is being a writer. Hope begins in the dark,
the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing,
the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work; you don’t give up.

Ann Lamott

Hope, like prayer, is often seen as a last resort. Or as an excuse used by weaklings. “I hope I can pass the test,” said the unprepared student. He sighs, and we shake our heads, knowing that if he has to rely on hope he’s probably done for.

But maybe hope is more than we think.

I like the idea that hope is the first resort, the beginning. And it’s also the middle, as it faces obstacles and setbacks. And hope is present at the end, when the long-desired project (or promise) comes to pass. Hope transforms into sight, and great is our rejoicing.

A revolutionary patience.

One timid step at a time.

Photo: Canan Zambil (Creative Commons Flickr). Image is link.

17 thoughts on “H is for Hope

  1. LOVE Anne Lamott. And I especially love this new perspective on “hope.” Taken in that light, hope is not only a radical idea, it’s dangerous in all the best possible senses. Thank you; you’ve found some awesome quotes for this challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish I could claim credit for diligently searching out quotations for the A to A Challenge, Carryl. They’re from a collection that I started almost fifteen years ago. You know those dark and overwhelming days when giving up looks like the best option? That’s when the advice of writers and artists who have gone before me help. When I stumble upon a new gem, I add it.

      A while ago I decided to share the best ones with my high school writing students, and so the Treasure Books of Writing were born. Quotations, comics, articles—a word buffet of advice. The books grow laughably larger as the school year progresses. Here’s a photo.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Struggle is the word, yes. Many a dark day quitting seems like the best option. Or not trying. There’s no rejection if I do not try.

      I’m one of those people who thinks not competing is the better athletic choice. “If I don’t run the race, I won’t be humiliated when I lose,” I say. “Who cares if I’m a weakling and not physically fit? Who cares if I never wear a medal?”

      That works for a while.

      Ah, but then that pesky thing named “Calling” steps forward and raps on my skull. “Hello, remember me?” he says. “You’re a writer. This is one of the few things that you do really well. And besides, it’s a matter of stewardship.”

      Stewardship. Calling has a point there. And so I sigh, pick myself up, and begin writing again.


    1. I can learn a lot from your persistence and can-do spirit, Robin. Maybe it’s the musician in you, or your farmer ancestors, or just plain stubbornness. Whatever it is, I do not see you leaving behind a trail of unfinished projects.

      Do not ask about my abandoned sewing projects! Or my sadly neglected garden, now that I am allergic to wasps, ha. I have learned to stick with things I do fairly well (and don’t cost money). Which is why I continue to work at writing.


      1. My heritage is English-Scots-Irish. I got my stubbornness honestly. I think the musical background and my hard-scrabble farmer ancestry also plays into it. I really grew up being told I could do anything. My parents believed in me.


    1. It is indeed. Classic Emily Dickinson.

      “Hope” is the thing with feathers –
      That perches in the soul –
      And sings the tune without the words –
      And never stops – at all –

      And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
      And sore must be the storm –
      That could abash the little Bird
      That kept so many warm –

      I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
      And on the strangest Sea –
      Yet – never – in Extremity,
      It asked a crumb – of me.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, IB, Seth Godin said something on his blog today about the difference between hope and expectation. A wise observation.

      Hope is fuel, it moves us forward and it amplifies our best work.

      Expectation is the killer of joy, the shortest route to disappointment. When we expect that something will happen, we can’t help but be let down…


  2. Yes! I think if we show up enough, hope spans the gap. My brother often went through depression and my need for him to drive me to various jobs kept him moving. I used to feel like a burden making him drive me until… I overheard him say, “I got a job … driving my sister to work.” Hope. If we show up, it does too. our needs often meets the needs of others, and that’s worth writing about! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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