“I feel that writing is an act of hope, a sort of communion with our fellow [human beings].” – Isabelle Allende
Last year, I made a commitment to put my Advent practice to work in a concrete and tangible way. My plan was to choose one of the Advent themes, act on that theme for a week, and then write about my action every single day. I posted my daily practice on a blog called “28 Days of Advent”.
This actually turned out to be a lot of work, gratifying in the end, but still work. Sometimes I would get to the end of the day and think, “Wait, I forgot to do an act of “Love” today!” And I’d actually have to go out and do it. And then I would have to find the time to write about it.
And while I will say that while “Love” and “Joy” were relatively easy to do (as in finally calling my parents or giving a small gift to a friend), “Hope” was a little more challenging. How do I do hope?
My solution was to recognize hope in my daily life. To see it, to name it, and, if necessary, change my attitude if I was not experiencing it. For example, I took my friend to the doctor, I would have done it anyway, but because I had to write about it, I had to name it. I had hope that the doctors could finally ease his pain. When I went to Sing-a-Long at the Union Gospel Mission, I saw the hope in these men’s faces, and I shared their hope. Sometimes, I was forced to look at things with an attitude of hope. The current administration leads me to despair. But because I needed to recognize hope and write about hope, I had to look for new ways to be hopeful, like believing someone else will be able to lead us out of the mess, and looking for ways that I could be part of that change.
All this writing kept me accountable. It was like a homework assignment. If I have to write it, I have to do it.
And if I’m lucky enough to be able to share this writing with others, and have them say “Me too!” or “Good work!” or “You have inspired me!”, then the hope expands exponentially.
Isabelle Allende says: “The writer of good will carries a lamp to illuminate the dark corners. Only that, nothing more — a tiny beam of light to show some hidden aspect of reality, to help decipher and understand it and thus to initiate, if possible, a change in the conscience of some readers.”
Indeed, if I notice, observe, act, and then write it down for all to see, there is a change in the conscience of readers, but also, in the conscience of me.
My writing gives me hope.
(I plan to do “28 Days of Advent” again this year. I would love it if you would join me.)