“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -
-- Emily Dickenson
National Month of Hope was founded in 2018 by Mothers in Crisis inc as a way of encouraging mutual support within our communities and to encourage the forging of new paths. April is also national poetry month, so it seemed only natural to turn to one of the most well known verses of all time by Emily Dickenson who so perfectly captures the essence of hope in the above lines. As Dickenson illustrates, hope is an enduring thing. I know in my own life, hope has often been my salvation but not because of the blind optimism we so frequently ascribe to the concept but because of those around me who have embodied its essence and brought me hope when I needed it most.
We have to not only seek hope, but BE hope - for ourselves and for others. Hope is an idea that so many people readily give up on - likely because of the trivial worn out nature that we assign to it. We don’t want hope, we want solutions. And often we feel like prescribing hope means telling someone to sit down and wait for the world to decide if they deserve goodness. I challenge all those who read this to abandon that narrative and think, how can I provide some hope and respite to my community? Because we all deserve goodness, it is not up to some breeze of fate to decide if we make it -- it is up to us all to make sure our community makes it. Not only must we hope for each other that we will make it, but we have to give each other the power to make it and thrive when we do. What gave you hope in the past, and how can you be that hope for someone else? When speaking with someone who is struggling, do more than just assure them that things will be okay, do what you can to help things become okay again. Hope can come in the form of a warm meal, a smile, a few minutes of your time -- those small acts can be the wings that lift our community up. Our hope is our commitment to the future.
Hope, as Emily Dickenson puts it, does not ask anything of us. However, that does not mean we cannot pay it forward. This month, and every month, consider signing up to volunteer at the NWI Food Bank, Lake County Public Library, or with United Way. If you have ever been given hope when you need it, then take the time to give that hope back to our community and you may be surprised to see the wings of hope coming back to you and perching in your soul as well.
A Positive Approach to Teen Health (P.A.T.H) is a 501(c)3 organization that reaches seven counties throughout Northwest Indiana. Since 1993, A Positive Approach to Teen Health has been working to empower teens to make healthy choices regarding drugs, sex, alcohol, and violence.