Archive for September, 2015

Hope Deferred

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” -Proverbs 13:12

Finally – after one of the driest years on record and the driest I can ever remember – finally, finally, it has begun to rain.

This year it felt like we waited a million years for the rains to come. It was dry, so dry, and dusty, for months and months after the rain should have started. Day after day we stood, and stared, and watched the sky, and saw nothing but sun and blue and hopes deferred. It felt interminable.

Through it all, I kept thinking about how in Spanish the words for “to hope” and “to wait” are the exact same – esperar. The only way to know which one the speaker is trying to say is context; maybe they’re waiting, maybe they’re hoping. Maybe it’s a little bit of both.

And isn’t life just like that? If we never had to wait for anything, we would have nothing to hope for. So we wait for the little things, and then the big things, and we learn to be patient. With every additional day that passes – every additional day we wait – our hope grows by addition, and it gets bigger, stronger. A more and more deeply rooted tree, though it seems scorched and bare to the naked eye.

My friends here are much better at this than I am. Perhaps because they still have so much to hope for. Their communities and families have waited 100 years, endless generations, as long as history remembers, for something as simple as water, or food security, or a home. But somehow, they do not despair. They are not sick at heart. Their hope grows deeper and wider with every day of waiting, and still they watch the sky for relief.

It is not easy. But without wait, there would be no hope. And a life without hope is a life of despair – we look forward to nothing, want nothing, believe in nothing. Instead, we learn to see a drought not as the lack of rain but the hope for it, and we are all the more thankful when it comes.

I used to hate that Proverbs verse up at the top; I couldn’t get past the “heart sick” part, and it hit way too close to home for me to bear. I just never saw it – never saw the part about “longing fulfilled.” It is what everyone here seems to understand intuitively, and what I never understood until they showed me.

Now I finally see that after all the waiting and the longing, when what we hope for finally comes (in one form or another), it is life. A well-watered tree. A tree that knows the sweetness of the rumble of thunder, the flash of lightening, and that first, fresh, clean drop that splashes down after a lifetime of waiting from a heaven of hope.

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