Welcome to Day One of Make Your Heart a Vessel of Hope. We're delighted that you've joined us for this 5-day exploration and cultivation of hope.
Active Hope is waking up to the beauty of life on whose behalf we can act.
We belong to this world. –Joanna Macy
Active Hope is waking up to the beauty of life on whose behalf we can act.
We belong to this world. –Joanna Macy
It could be said that every human era is a time of great uncertainty, a time that requires hope in order to keep going. It is also true that our era is distinct in being the most globally connected in the history of the world. In some ways, this means that hope is always at our fingertips. With a few clicks, we can witness courageous acts of love and compassion in real time, access stories of extraordinary human triumph, or livestream a beautiful concert or compelling talk from around the world.
But our global connection also leaves us with shared challenges and a profound, collective uncertainty about the future. Is there a real end to the pandemic? Will we ever find our way to ongoing peace and equity? Will we have the courage to unite in the face of climate change? The cumulative impact of truly caring for the world, particularly when layered on top of any losses and hardships we may be facing in our individual lives, would simply be impossible to navigate without hope. It’s in these times that cultivating hope as an orientation to life can let in some much-needed light, nourish our hearts, remind us of possibility, and inspire new action in our lives and the world.
Day One: Waking Up to Hope in the World
On this first day of the practice, we invite you to pause, look around, and identify specific ways that hope is alive and thriving in the world. No matter how you might be feeling today, explore the steps below to begin building a practice of attuning to – and allowing for – hope.
Share Your Reflection: We invite you to share your story and/or reflection below. Allow your sources of hope to contribute to a rising well of hope for others engaged in this practice. Please note that you’re welcome to post a response to each day’s prompt at any point during the practice.
*You are able to access the photo series up to three times without a subscription to The Atlantic.
Training Our Trains of Thought: A Short Essay by Kristi Nelson
Kristi’s compelling piece offers us strategies and guidance for shifting “awful-izing” patterns of thought to habits of mind that help orient us toward gratefulness and hope.
Photo Credit: Elena Kloppenburg
Please log in or Create a Profile to post a comment.
Although I signed up and looked forward to this series, I only received Day 1 and no others. Can this be corrected? I sent notes via “contact” twice but have had no response. I did check to see if days 2-5 went to another place on my computer – it did not.
I looked at the pictures a few days ago, on some I had to acknowledge (possibly very legitimate) cynicism (thinking about the distance between applauding healthcare workers and giving them the working conditions and pay they deserve), and today finally tried somewhat regularly to remember the prompt to look for sources of hope in the things I experienced throughout the day. While I am still a bit hesitant (when is „hope“ an inappropriate focus on small positive experiences, potentially together with an illusion of how meaningful they might be in the grand scheme while ignoring big dangerous negative trends in the world?), I took some small nice feelings with me and would be happy to develop a sharper sense of moments of love, courage etc. around me – at least to remember what to work towards/for. I‘ll look forward continue the practice on my schedule in the next days 🙂
Thank you for this lovely practice. Kristi – your piece was wonderful. It’s funny that we know we can fall into habits of awfulizing and we can even watch our patterns in doing so and yet many of us (myself included) haven’t realized we can use the same patterns of behavior to cultivate trains of hope, joy, love or gratitude (or all 4). It sounds simple, but like water flowing down a ditch, it needs to be trained (oops pun not intended – but appropriate) to go in another direction until a new, equally easy path is created. A powerful lesson.
I loved the photos, and also see why some people found them to cause less hope, or more sadness. I tried to remember the photos capture moments in time and in THOSE moments when the photos were taken, there was so much hope in those people’s faces, and actions. Looking back over a few really difficult years for the world can always feel overwhelming and so if we hold onto the glimmers of hope we can see NOW and reflect on photos that even back then when hope seemed difficult individuals found a glimmer, then we can keep hope alive in our present – and that will be seeds for the future.
It is hard to pick a favorite image – but I think for me it’s the couple in their ballroom dancing clothes dancing in their little garden, alone. So joyful and full of promise.
And lastly a little story that truly brought me to a hopeful place. I was recently in the Sacred Valley in Peru (a magnificent place!). I met a driver whose entire livelihood depended on driving tourists around the valley and the surrounding areas. Of course when the pandemic hit, his work came to a total stop. He and his wife did the best they could, stretching their small savings to keep food on the table for their two children and themselves. About two months into the shut-down, he got a notice from his bank about a large deposit – very large. He thought it was a mistake and contacted the bank. But it was real. Someone (apparently someone who had previously paid him) had anonymously deposited the money into his account. The bank had no record of who it had been. The driver didn’t tell anyone for several days, including his wife. He was sure it would be withdrawn as soon as the error was discovered. But it remained. He finally told his wife and the two wept with joy and gratitude for this enormous kindness. Two years later he still doesn’t know who his benefactor is, but he said he prays for them every day. And he said it was one more reminder for himself to do kind things for others whenever he can.
I wept with him as he told me this story. I truly felt more hopeful in humanity. There is bad in the world – and bad people. But there are far more good people, and goodness. And that will always give me hope.
Thank you all, again.
Thank you for creating that word: awfulizing. As we age we tend to think only the good old days were good, blocking out the current goodness.
Thank you for every part of this reflection. The story of the anonymous gift is particularly moving. Thank you.
Thank you Gratefulness for this, it has come at just the right time as I have added an awful lot of carriages to my negative train of thought lately. This morning I got up feeling utterly miserable and sat drinking my coffee with tears falling. The Atlantic photos, whilst I can’t pin one defining photo down, what they have shown me is human resilience and it’s capability for joy. Kristi Nelson’s essay was very helpful. I’m feeling lighter after both the photos and the essay.
Great image you posted about adding carriages to your negativity train. I am good at that, too. Need to get to a side track, to unhitch those cars!
A wise person once said.”Be careful not to rent space to negative thoughts.”
I am glad you are feeling lighter, lamme. I like your expression, “adding carriages to my negative train.” I think sometimes I have done that, too. You are not alone here. As I drink my coffee tomorrow morning I will be thinking of you in friendship. ☕
#33 the photo I would add would be the picture of the man playing the piano in Poland greeting the Ukrainians with music as they were forced to leave Ukraine. In their pain and loss they were greeted with the comfort and beauty of music. Goodness and kindness giving them hope. The Polish people extending a place of safety in the midst of the evil they were experiencing.
As think of all the disasters, either through war, conflict, or climate crisis I am so grateful for the privileges I have. My husband and I just moved back into our house after being out for over 7 months due to the flood and evacuation our little city last November. Our house needed to be completely gutted and restored. What gives me hope is how the community rallied together, all pitching in where they could, the help of Samaritan’s Purse especially the Mennonites and all the young contractors in our town. With their help we have restored our home. The world is in good shape with these young people and it gives me hope!
It’s so good to read your post. How we forget those who step in to help during trouble, and get the job done. When we cannot help in person there are those ministry groups who do. They need our monetary support
Thank you for sharing your story, Melodie. Your story gives me hope, too! I know you must have lost things, but I am very thankful for your resilience!
The photo that spoke about incredible hope was about the volunteer named Jawad Javed delivering coronavirus protection kits that he and his wife put together for the vulnerable people of their community in Stenhousemuir, between Glasgow and Edinburgh, in Scotland. I become teary-eyed when I see an image of someone (usually an immigrant or someone whose race is despised) giving so freely from their own hearts to make sure that someone else who is vulnerable feels less so and feels safe.
Yes, that was a good one! 🤗
The image that spoke to me was the one showing a woman hugging a therapy horse. The image conjured up my daughter Elizabeth, equine surgeon extraordinaire. She gives me hope for the future – she, my son Alex, and my only grandson Gordy. The future is in good hands with good people like them. What else in the world gives me hope? The prospect of Donald Trump in a jail cell.
On Day One, we were asked to identify sources of hope. I kept thinking about the dancers… about moving as if all will turn out. Then I remembered my garden “bombing.” My neighbors are visiting family in Australia for two months. They are vegetarians and love fresh food. When they left, I went over to their little raised vegetable bed which they had let go this year. I cleared it and planted in it with veg as a surprise for when they arrive home… which is today. I will try to post a photo of the garden here, a sign of hope. If I can’t, I will also be posting in the Gratitude Lounge, where I know I can post a photo. …I hope you will go see it there. 🙂
Planting anything in a garden is an act of hope. Planting a garden as a surprise gift for others magnifies that hope immensely. What a wonderful gift you’ve given your neighbors — and us! Thank you.
I love this so much!
Oh, I love this! I can only imagine their delight upon return. What a gift of hope!
For me, the 2021 collection of photos depicts hope in the universal nature of love and friendship—spanning all ages, and cultures, and even between species! We see it in the elderly friends sharing a laugh in Ecuador, the young, escalator-riding couple in Moscow, the jubilant Olympians opting to share a gold medal, and the swan accompanying his human rescuer on evening walks in Turkey.
Simply beautiful ❤️
What struck me with the photos is how in one way or another they all reflect caring, either of others or self-care or of animals. And many of the photos expressed resuming activities as best they could. It made me realize I have been looking for hope in the wrong place. I thought of many of the photos today, but for some reason the couple who were dancing was the one that most stayed in my mind. ❤
all dressed up in their finest ballroom clothes – in their own little garden. Hopeful (and joyful) indeed
I’d I look with eyes open to seeing hope, it’s always there to be found. There is so much demanding my attention that it’s easy to miss these moments. I have to be intentional in cultivating that worldview, one that seeks out hope snd doesn’t get caught up in “awfulizing.” The answer really is gratitude. When I go through my day as ccepting everything as a gift, hope abounds.
We added a second set of hopeful images from Alan Taylor – this one from 2021 – that may resonate more fully for some of you. You may need to refresh this page to see the additional offering listed above. Please keep in mind that you have three opportunities total to access The Atlantic offerings for free.
Tuning into hope has me realize how little are my worries and concerns. Hope is vast and full of possibilities.
The images were somewhat helpful to me, though Kristi’s piece was more what I need to read today, given that I feel I am at a significant crossroads. At such times, it’s very easy for me to fire up the locomotive that doubts that I will ever figure out how to be of real service. I am grateful – seriously – for Kristi’s words of wisdom. They definitely were what I needed to read today!
The images were hopeful to me because in one way or another they were all about love and joy and I think anything with a focus of love and joy instead of loss or hate is desperately needed. 💜🌹
The exuberance on the face of the teacher doing a zoom class…..such proof we can be lovingly creative…..the orphan in Kenya with her hula hoop……life is possible….the gentleman hugging his brother just released from hospital…..hope answered….thank you!
Every picture expresses the Spirit of Generosity shown in every individual in the images I saw. The Spirit of Life-giving is so ever-present in the expressions of the first responders and individuals present in the lives of those who suffer. Every picture is a sign of Hope for me. During this period of isolation, we have seen the Human heart transcending doubts and fears created by the pandemic and politics. It is the presence of love that transforms the realities of pain and suffering and that Transformation gives us HOPE.
I play violin in several orchestras, and the photos of others giving outdoor concerts moves me so much. All three of the ensembles that I play in have returned to making music in person together, and we all share a sense of rejoicing and greater awareness of how much we have to be grateful for.
Also reviewed these images in 2021. glad to see them again. What speaks to me most is the love and joy in deep resonance that is shared with and among family, human and animal friends and strangers – these are the places of our home, our connections with each other, no matter what. YES – the many reflections of hope.
Write an entry in your private gratefulness journal
There is nothing more difficult yet more gratifying in our society than living with sincere,…
Today’s practice extends an invitation to embody hope through identifying and taking a hopeful action.
Today’s practice is an invitation to cultivate hope as an orientation to life by opening…
This site is brought to you by A Network for Grateful Living, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. All donations are fully tax deductible in the U.S.A.
© 2000 - 2022, A Network for Grateful Living
Website by Briteweb