We closed the windows in the house this week. We haven’t yet turned on the heat, but there’s a noticeable chill in the air when we walk out to the bus stop each morning. Our breath is visible as we exhale in the natural rhythm of life.
October is a magical time. The shifting of seasons can’t be denied. (At least, not if you live in a place that has four seasons. I’ve never lived anywhere that didn’t.) Temperatures drop. Sweatshirts are added to the wardrobe. And pumpkin everything takes top billing on menus and grocery shelves. Football is king.
But it’s also the time of year when hope begins to bubble up anew. At least it does if you’re a baseball fan. (And if you’re not a baseball fan, I hope I won’t lose you here.)
My husband and I are lifelong Chicago Cubs fans. In case you miss the significance of that statement, let me clarify: We have waited our whole lives, and our parents have waited their whole lives, for this team to make it to the World Series. October baseball beyond the last weekend of the regular season is never a guarantee, so when it happens to your team, it’s like the beginning of the season all over again.
Last night, our beloved team came from behind to win a game that up until that point was a little bit sad and depressing. I was sleep-deprived from staying up to watch the previous night’s game which did not end until almost 3 a.m. in my time zone, so I bailed on my team and went to bed. My body thanked me.
When I woke up this morning, they had done what seemed unlikely, although never impossible in the post-season. They had won. And I felt guilty for “giving up” too soon.
“Don’t give up five minutes before the miracle happens.”
It’s a favorite saying of one of our favorite teachers at the kids’ school. Laced with hope, that statement makes it hard not to believe good things might be just around the corner if only we’d wait a little bit longer.
But the cynical/pessimistic/realistic side of me also thinks it’s an impossible task, this holding out for hope just a few minutes longer. On my worst days, I think it’s a trick to just keep waiting forever, to keep hoping beyond hope forever. When do we get to give up? (This tells you something about my staying power, doesn’t it?)
Hope is such a beautiful thing, an understatement, I know, but it’s also terribly vulnerable, almost fragile. Holding on to hope feels like trying to hold a butterfly in your hands. One wrong move, and it’s gone. Hold too tightly, and you’ll crush it. Try to chase it, and you might never catch it again.
Maybe the key to holding on to hope is just to be still.
Let me sit with that for a moment, no pun intended.
Maybe I can’t run after hope like a ball that got away from our yard and is rolling down the street.
Maybe I can’t shout to get its attention or wave my arms wildly to get it to notice me.
Maybe I can’t even keep it for very long.
Maybe I just need to be still enough to let it rest on me.
October baseball is anything but peaceful. There are numerous ups and downs. Disappointments. Groans. Successes. Cheering.
Not unlike life.
You don’t have to be in a high-stakes contest to not be at peace with your life or to feel like you’re riding a roller coaster you didn’t ask to be on. You don’t have to be famous or be in the news to know what it is to have your life upended and rebuilt and upended and rebuilt.
Your situation doesn’t have to be extraordinary to be in need of hope.
Sometimes I think hope in the ordinary circumstances is harder to come by. To grind out hope day after day after day can be exhausting and frustrating. It can feel like looking for butterflies in the dead of winter.
Did you know that while some butterflies migrate in winter, others hibernate? I just learned that. Maybe that’s the way it is with hope, too. When you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean it’s gone far away. Hope might just be hibernating, storing up reserves for the right time to be revealed.
Maybe holding on to hope isn’t foolish after all. Maybe it’s as simple as believing that spring will come again when you’re surrounded by 30 inches of snow. That the sun will shine again when today is a downpour. Or that the seeds you buried in the ground will bear tomatoes in a few months. That the caterpillar will become a butterfly.
I am not an overly optimistic person, but I wouldn’t want to live without hope.
As fleeting as it seems, hope is a necessary part of our lives. Without it, we’re missing something beautiful.
And October baseball.
How do you hold on to hope?
Is it easy or difficult for you to believe the miracle could be five minutes away?
What gives you hope?