Hope when It Doesn’t Feel Like Hope

Hope when It Doesn’t Feel Like Hope


Coming together to work toward a shared, possible-but-difficult goal is the very definition of active hope. It is, living in this very moment in ways that are just, righteous (such a scary word!), and loving, all in the service of the community of belonging we want Unitarian Universalism, and UUCA, in particular to become.

The progressive historian Howard Zinn wrote, “We don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

Sometimes, we just can’t see what we long for coming to pass. Sometimes we’re afraid. Sometimes we just don’t feel hopeful for what we nonetheless yearn toward. Sometimes we just don’t feel optimistic that what we want is going to come to pass.

But there are more options for action than optimistic hope or paralyzing despair.

There are more ways to think, behave, and feel. Hope is wonderful, but when it feels tenuous or scary, we can still commit ourselves to this “infinite succession of presents,” as Zinn says. We can give ourselves over to the process of our dreams unfolding in their mysterious ways right now. We can feel and believe in determination, persistence, insistence, and strength, even if we don’t feel the optimism that is usually associated with hope.

So many of us want to feel some kind of hope that our actions will bring about what we want. But the Universe is mysterious, and we know that too. We know that there are unseen obstacles, that history shows us that the “moral arc of the universe” is indeed long and if it is to bend toward justice, it is we must do the bending, the coordinated pulling together.

We all want to feel that we belong. We all need a community where we can be all of ourselves, and where we can bring our families, our fears, our neighbors, our dreams, our quirks and superpowers. And if we want that community of beloveds,  we can live into it by sheer determination and practice, right here and right now. And part of what we do now can be committing to the future despite our fears and doubts.

As your affiliated community minister, I am not there, physically among you, holding hands with you in solidarity, watching up close the changes (physical, emotional, and spiritual) that are part of our shared life in UUCA. Despite our physical distance, I believe in you and your persistent commitment to the mission of UUCA, “to foster a community of faith that encourages and supports our individual spiritual quests out of which we act together for social justice.”

How can you live out that mission today for the good of the whole? How can you do your part to keep the dreams of UUCA alive, even if hope isn’t feeling like hope?

Even when you have to rely on determination in the face of what feels like not-hope, you can nevertheless support the ongoing life of UUCA’s mission.

I know we all have a piece in this mission. Let’s do it!


Because my ministry is largely long-distance and online, I can be here for you virtually in this time. All you need is internet capability, and I am just an email away! Please feel free to email me, Rev. Catharine Clarenbach, at magic@thewayoftheriver.com. For more information about other parts of my ministry, find me at  http://thewayoftheriver.com .