A Story of Hope

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Hope was a young girl who lived in the land of Gladness. Hope’s hair was made of sunshine; her freckles were bits of stardust.  Hope’s meals came from the Spring of Possibility, which was located in the Forest of Youth.  Daily, Hope would take long satisfying draws from the Spring of Possibility, then nap in the Temple of equality, which lay just outside the forest.  The Temple of Equality was a beautiful building, rivaled by none in architecture due to its perfect balance.   

The Temple of Equality had many rooms, and it was said that every room in the Temple was just as beautiful and ornate as the others.  Each room was different, but no room had less and no room had more.

One day, Hope’s parents, Time and Knowledge, presented Hope with some devastating news.  

They were moving the family away from the Forest of Youth, and out of the land of Gladness.  

Hope would now reside in the neighboring land named, Responsibility.  Hope did not want to move.  

All her life she had been happy in the Land of Gladness, near the Forest of Youth, and certainly she did not want to abandon the Temple of Equality,  as it was the place she felt most at home, most secure.  Feeling lost, Hope confided her fears to her greatest companion, Faith.  Faith told Hope that her parents, Knowledge and Time, understood the points in life when one must move on. 

Faith assured Hope that there would be other Temples of Equality in other lands, and that if she remembered to take the time to come back to it, the land of Gladness would always be waiting for her.

“What about the Forest of Youth?” asked Hope.  “That you must say goodbye to,” answered Faith, “although you will always remember it in your heart.” “But the Spring of Possibility!” Hope exclaimed, “It is my only source of sustenance!”  Faith again assured Hope that there were other springs in other lands and told her it was time to go.

As her parents, Time and Knowledge, packed all the family’s belongings, Hope returned to Forest of Youth one last time to take one last drink from the Spring of Possibility, but when she arrived at her usual drinking place the Spring of Possibility was gone!  Hope was thirsty so she looked and she looked, but she could not locate the Spring of Possibility.  Then a very strange thing began to happen.  

As Hope was searching, the leaves began to turn strange colors all around her.  Bright reds and oranges, then more brown.  When the leaves reached their Brown stage, they began to fall from the trees.  

Astonished and frightened, Hope called out for her companion Faith.  As always when needed, Faith was close by.  “Come Hope, you will have to find another spring, the Forest of Youth is changing seasons,” said Faith. So Hope traveled with her parents, Time and Knowledge, to the land of responsibility.  Upon arrival, Hope went in search of a new Spring of Possibility, as she was very very thirsty.  

During her search, Hope found that there are many springs by many names, and that not all of them were nourishing.  She came across the Springs of Anger, Fear, and Resentment, all of which made her feel sick.  She came across the Spring of Hatred which had the scent of poison, so she did not drink.  The Spring of Confusion made her feel dizzy.  The spring of Creativity made her feel vibrant and full of energy, so she often drank from this spring, but then felt tired quickly afterword.  

Hope searched and searched for a spring that would quench her thirst like the Spring of Possibility.  

As Hope was searching, Faith came to visit once again.  

During her visit, Hope inquired after the location of the Temple of Equality that resided in the Land of Responsibility, so faith led her there.  Inside Hope found the Springs of Love and Community.  She found when she mixed them together they made the Nectar of Peace.  The Nectar of Peace made Hope feel very full and very cozy.  So for a while Hope would spend most of her days drinking from the Spring of Creativity, and her nights sheltered in the Temple, sleeping comfortably after drinking in Love and Community. 

Still Hope was not nourished as she had been by the Spring of Possibility.  She longed for adventure that her current peace could not give her.  She missed the taste of Possibility.  In the Land of Responsibility, Hope’s hair of sunshine turned to straw.  Her stardust freckles faded and fell from her cheeks, but she was comfortable; sometimes she even felt winds that she knew must have been carried from the Land of Gladness.  Hope rested for a time.

One day, as Hope was retrieving her morning drink from the Spring of Creativity, she noticed a thick oozing substance on the ground.  The substance was spilling over into the Spring.  

As Hope followed the substance she found that it flowed from the Spring of Discontent, newly bubbled from the earth.  Hope spent all day and all night trying to save the waters of the Spring of Creativity from contamination.  She worked to fight back the flood of liquid flowing out of the Stream of Discontent, but to no avail.  Thirsty, Hope drank from the Stream that mixed both Creativity and Discontent, and returned to the Temple of Equity.  

Hope entered, but tired as she was, she accidentally went to a different room in the Temple.  

Noticing her mistake, she excused herself and began to leave but before she could, Hope noticed a large crack in the wall of this room.  The walls in Hope’s room of the Temple did not have cracks.  

Dismayed, Hope left the room and went to another room.  She entered a room full of rich red colors.  

The furniture in the room was plush, but worn and threadbare.  Hope did not understand why these things were allowed to lose their beauty when everything in her room was new and sparking and white.  

Hope found the Guardian of the Temple, Tradition.  Hope asked Tradition why some rooms had new things and others did not.  Tradition told hope that the Wealth worshiped with her in her room, and Wealth was the one who kept things in good repair.  Without wealth, the other worshipers needed to make due with cracks and failing furniture.  When Hope asked why Wealth only worshiped in one room of the Temple, Tradition responded that this had always been the way.  Hope felt empty.

She went back to her room and realized that the people in it never really looked into other rooms.  She never had.  Even within the same Temple they did not see the others around them, the others drinking from the same Streams of Love and Community.  Hope realized that the people in her room did not even know that other people had to live in rooms with cracks; they did not know that some people lived without the benefit of someone replacing their items of comfort.  

Lost and reeling, Hope one again called out for her companion Faith to soothe her.  Faith appeared once again.  

Faith noticed the changes in Hope, her need of nourishment, her hair of straw, her lack of star-kissed freckles.  Faith told Hope of another Temple far far away, in the Land of Progress.  

“This Temple,” Faith said, “is the meeting place of the guardians of all the Temples of Equality across the land.  If you travel there the journey will be long and difficult, but you will have your questions answered.”  Hope packed her belongings, said goodbye to her parents, Time and Knowledge, who encouraged her journey, and headed to the Land of Progress.  Faith accompanied her.  

When they arrived Hope noticed how exceedingly beautiful the Land of Progress was.  

It was full of Springs, new Springs everywhere, and the air was warm but the breeze blew constantly.  Faith beckoned Hope to follow her as she made her way to the Temple on the hill, where the guardians of all the other Temples met to pray and sing, to speak and eat, and to make very big decisions.  

It was very tiring to walk all the way up the very large hill, but when she did, Hope found a vast Temple, much larger than any she had encountered before.  It was vast and looming, and frankly a bit intimidating.  

As Hope crossed the threshold to the Temple, she felt a buzz of new energy, energy that was different that she had ever felt before, but the hall of the Temple were cavernous and cold and empty.  

It was at this point that Faith turned to Hope and told her that she needed to be going now, and abruptly left.  Hope was shocked, and scared and upset.  Never in her life had Faith abandoned her before.  

Hope wandered the halls of the Temple.  She spent a very long time wandering aimlessly, looking for something to answer her questions.  The only Springs she found in the Temple were those of Lonesomeness and Confusion.  She drank from them, because she was thirsty, but they made her feel horrible.  

As she was wandering one day a  girl adorned with pearls approached her.  She introduced herself as Grace.  Grace told Hope that her inner light was not shining so brightly.  Hope did not entirely understand.  It seemed no one in this Temple spoke in a way that was meaningful to her, but having a brighter light sounded like a good thing, so Hope listened.  Grace told Hope that in the Temple were two great teachers, and once she found them and learned their lessons, things would become more clear.  Hope thanked Grace and resumed her wandering with new found enthusiasm.  

Sooner than she thought, Hope came upon a room with two tall figures in the front administering lessons for a group of anxious and eager students.  Hope was so relieved that she entered the classroom and instantly began to absorb whatever lessons lay before her.  She learned that the teachers’ names were Error and Ignorance.  The exercises they asked Hope to engage in were easy and uncomplicated.  Hope was bolstered, thinking that her answers were going to come soon and with little effort.  After the exercises Error and Ignorance asked Hope to drink from a Spring, in order to toast their lessons.

Hope, following the guidance of Error and Ignorance drank and drank and drank.  After she finished, she began to feel a heavy weight upon her whole person.  “What Spring is this?” asked Hope.  

“The Spring of Defeat,” answered Error and Ignorance.  The weight Hope felt began to grow.  

She fell to the floor unable to move and watched as her teachers abandoned her.  She was too dejected to protest.  Hope sat slumped over on the floor for a very long time.  Faith had abandoned her, those she looked to for lessons had left her.  She no longer felt at home in her Temples.  

As the effect of the water from the Spring of Defeat began to wear off Hope began to gather herself for her long joinery home.  Clearly she had come to the wrong place.  As she was leaving she again encountered Grace.  Hope was angry with Grace for leading her astray.  “Why did you tell me to listen to Error and Ignorance!” “Why did you not warn me to stay away from Ignorance and Error?” Hope demanded.  Grace looked calm and grounded.  “I told you that two great teachers would answer your questions, I did not say they were Error and Ignorance.  The teachers are two others, and I will bring you to them.”  

Just then two children turned the corner and appeared before Hope and Grace.  “This is Failure and Perspective,” said Grace as she introduced them to Hope.  “They are the children of Error and Ignorance, these are the teachers you seek.” Failure and Perspective approached Hope.  They stood protectively on either side of her and took her by the hand.  Doing so, they led her further into the Temple.  Hope passed many classrooms, with a feeling that she would be back at some point to enter them. At the end of a long hallway, Failure and Perspective welcomed hope into a room with a soft glowing light.  

As she entered Hope noticed that the room was filled with people, all kinds of people.  The room contained people like the ones from other Temples she had visited, but they were all in one room.  

There were small cracks in the walls, but in all the walls and the furniture was made of many different colors.   None of it was new, but all of it looked serviceable.  In the middle of the room was a great fountain.  This was something Hope had never seen before.  

Into the fountain flowed many Streams, all mixing together.  As she looked she saw the Streams of Creativity, Love and Community that had served her well in the past.  There were also the Streams of Humility, Patience, Compassion, Self Awareness, Empathy, and Courage.  A person with an impeccable suit and a soft voice approached Hope.  They told her that they were the Guardian of this Temple, their name was Enlightenment.  They told Hope that she had much work ahead of her, but if she drank from the Nectar of Wisdom, the mixture in the fountain in the center of the room, she would find the tools in the classrooms that would help her to build up Temples of Equality all over the land to fix the cracks and mend the furniture.  This was what Hope had traveled all this way to hear.  She drank the Nectar of Wisdom.  It tasted bitter.  

Hope continued to drink the Nectar of Wisdom, anticipating a transformation.  She asked Enlightenment why the Temple was so vast, and why this room was so difficult to find.  Enlightenment told her that the Temple was large, that it may accommodate all people, whether they choose to learn or not.  They explained to her that the room containing the Nectar of Wisdom was difficult to find because most did not want to see it.  Perspective and Failure usually had to guide the way.  

The more Hope learned, the more she became accustomed to the Nectar of Wisdom, bitter as it was.  She tried her best to learn the lessons before her.  One day, as Hope entered the Temple’s fountain room she was shocked and delighted to see her old companion Faith sitting by the fountain.  “Faith where have you been!” asked Hope, half relieved and half angry, “why did you leave me?”  “I did not leave, “answered Faith. “You pushed me away for a time, but now you have welcomed me back, the Nectar of Wisdom must be feeding you.”  Hope replied, “I am fed, though the food is unappetizing.” 

“Try this,” said Faith, and added liquid from the Stream of Acceptance to the mix.  

Hope drank, and as she drank she realized that she had never tasted anything so wholesome in her life.  As she drank she felt full, full for the first time in a very long time.  Hope felt enlivened, her senses became more acute.  As they did she noticed she heard the patter of rain on the rooftop.  

Hope had spent so much time wandering lost inside the Temple, she had forgotten how beautiful the land of progress was and asked Faith if she would come outside with her.   Hope and Faith stood outside on one of those rare days where there is both rain and sunshine.  

As the water fell on her face Hope began to feel a transition.  Her face was no longer made of the absence of stars and her hair was no longer straw, as the rain trickled over her, Hope was becoming Human.  She smiled and as she did the rain trickled into her mouth.  “Oh my!” Hope cried.  

“I know this water.  It is water from the Stream of Possibility.  This is the food of my childhood.”  “Yes,” answered Faith with a smile, “and from time to time, when you are learning and growing, it will cover all the land and you will feel rejuvenated and alive.  And from time to time things will get hard again, and the Nectar of Wisdom may become bitter.  In those times you may even wish me gone again, but if you stay on your path and open yourself to the earth and the sky, Possibility will continue to rain down on you every so often.”  

“What do I do now?” asked Hope.  “You return to your lessons,” said Faith. “Do not forget the words of Enlightenment.  Inside those classrooms are the tools of Truth, Justice, and Beauty.  

You must find them and build up the Temples so they are perhaps not equal, but equitable.” 

Hope turned and looked at the Temple, the place where she had experienced anxiety and hurt, reconciliation and growth.  She looked back at the long path that had taken her where she was, took a deep breath, and realized that her journey was just beginning. 

Rev. Julie Brock is a lifelong Michigander – most of which has been spent in Detroit.  She is the minister of the 1st Unitarian Universalist Church of Detroit, a group of folks striving for Beloved Community and Collective Liberation.  Julie lives in the Virginia Park neighborhood with her Husband Joel, Son Donovan, and cat Latke.  Her favorite things are shared meals, impromptu living room dance parties, dense theological debates, and the racehorse Seabiscuit. Julie is proud to share space and struggle with the good folks of this City, especially if they are smart enough to have picked up a copy of Riverwise. She looks forward to being in continued community y’all.