Like many cities, Asheville, North Carolina, has a “Before I Die . . .” wall—a large chalkboard with multiple spaces for people to write some of their hopes for the future. Since the wall is on the path I take for most of my downtown walks, I read them several days each week. I’ve laughed and wept, said “me too” or “not me,” and wondered how many of the hopes chalked on that wall will be realized.
I enjoy Christmas—always have. I look forward to children’s pageants, complete with Burger King crowns for wise men, bath-robed shepherds, and aluminum foil-wings for angels; misty-eyed singing of “Silent Night” in the glow of candlelight; watching George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge and Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, the Grinch’s stealing and returning Christmas yet again. I look forward to the arrhythmic ringing of Salvation Army bells.
Hope is sinewy, tenacious, and determined. It gives us strength when ours is gone, carries us into the future when we’ve been knocked-off our feet by the disappointments of the present, and makes it possible for us to trust that God is with us even when we feel alone.