Before You Have Hope.
A poem by Lenora Rand
Before you have hope, deep hope, not cheap hope, you must first listen to the ragged heart beats of those who have had hope stolen from them over and over again.
The ones who had so little to start with and then,
their fists pried open,
finger by finger,
the last pennies of hope,
stripped from their sweaty palms.
Gone in wildfires that leave only ashes.
In floods that take, the land their ancestors grew up on, because we have to keep the lights on, don’t we? We have to drive our cars and eat our meat.
Because the oil pipeline is far away,
the smokestacks aren’t in our backyards,
the consequences won’t be felt that soon.
Before you have deep hope, not cheap hope, you must put yourself in the bodies of those whose last shreds of hope have been robbed from their souls in the night.
Gone, just like that
in the moment when the policeman saw you were black.
When the border guard beheld brown skin. Not the fear. Not the “it’s life or death…”
Gone when the woman on the street spit on you because she thought your eyes were the wrong shape.
Or the man beat you because he didn’t like your sweet sashay.
Gone when the preacher prayed for you to be changed because God didn’t make you like that, couldn’t love you, like that.
Gone when the greed paid off the politicians because money speaks louder than body counts and tears.
Before you have hope, deep hope, not cheap hope, you must first listen to the truth of your own secret sorrows and sins. Name the unspeakable within you. Criminal and saint. Tax collector and Pharisee. Broken and Whole. Lost and Found. Both. All. All at the same time.
And if you really want to know hope, deep hope, not cheap hope, you must know it’s not just a noun, Hope is something you do. And keep doing. Even when the nights are long. And the stars are dim and too far away. When there are no wise men within a thousand miles. No gifts. Only scary angels with songs too hard to sing.
You DO hope.
You do HOPE.
YOU do hope.
You really want to have hope? Become hope.
No, I don’t know how.
I hope together we can find a way.