Something deeper than hope

(a combistory made from quoted text)

The doctor made a uterine incision
on the woman’s body
to extract the fetal arms
then grasped
the baby’s feet and pulled
him from the womb
delivering him
into the era of

During the pandemic
people turned to music
for solace. → →  Love
[was] the motive
but justice [was] the instrument. → → →

It’s hard to imagine now, but
people once gathered
together freely, shoulders
rubbing against shoulders
breath exchanged
between lungs. → → → →

We are meant to engage
not isolate. → → → → →

This week’s combistory combines one sentence each from a podcast and four articles I either listened to or read online this week. Each piece provoked me to think, and feel, and act. Inviting you to engage with them is the point of this word play.

Unlike previous combistories I haven’t linked the sentences themselves to the pieces I found them in. Those links are in the arrows above and the titles below. But I embedded some (hopeful) links in the poem, which I hope you’ll follow, especially this one if you’re like me and you have never seen a woman’s second heart before. Wow.

The authors of the five sentences in this week’s combistory, in order of placement, are:

♦ Alice Driver, Motherhood on the Line

♦♦ David Marchese, Yo-Yo Ma and the Meaning of Life

♦♦♦ Reinhold Niebuhr, quoted by Bryan Stevenson in Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, which I learned about in his wonderful On Being conversation with Krista Tippett.

♦♦♦♦ Katy Kelleher, Verdigris: The Color of Oxidation, Statues and Impermanence

♦♦♦♦♦ Terry Tempest Williams, Unraveling

Don’t isolate. Engage.

How do we stay engaged with each other in isolation? How do we care about others we can’t see?

How do we hold onto hope when everything seems so …

Bryan Stevenson contends that “hopelessness is the enemy of justice.” He sees hope as our responsibility—we’re either hopeful or we’re part of the problem. There is no neutral place, he says:

We’ve been dealing with injustice in so many places for so long. And if you try to dissect why is this still here, it’s because people haven’t had enough hope and confidence to believe that we can do something better. I think hope is our superpower. Hope is the thing that gets you to stand up when others say “Sit down.” It’s the thing that gets you to speak when others say “Be quiet.”

Hope, and something deeper than hope

So, for Stevenson, hope is the rent we owe for being alive on the planet. We pay that rent by standing up and speaking up about injustices.

Terry Tempest Williams talks about injustice, too. But where Stevenson foregrounds people, she names Earth itself. Earth ourselves:

We are Earth unraveling and reforming creation, Williams writes. We can reweave the world anew, but it will take something deeper than hope.

What, for you, is deeper than hope?

Photo of phytoplankton, the foundation of the oceanic food chain, is from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Photo Library (NOAA) on Unsplash.

If you followed the “imagine” link above, you may wonder who the extraordinary young woman singing “Imagine” is. I first wrote about Mennel Ibtissam here: We are not the only one.

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