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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Good Hoping*

The cape of good hoping

I don most days.


Some days it doesn't fit me,

an odd thing in a cape,

which is a one-size-fits-all

kind of garment.

So on the days it doesn't fit

I feel myself a misfit.

No cape.

No good hoping.


Let's focus on those other days,

the ones when my cape envelops me in hope.

Good hoping is a form of prayer,

I think.

I send full-hearted good hopes

to those who are bewildered or bereft or ill

or simply overwhelmed by realizing

that it all will end—joy and grief alike--

and not at an hour of their choosing.

It will end, willy-nilly,

and that thought,

which inspires some to great deeds

or lofty ambition,

gives to others the shock of the real

from which they recover only in part.


So for them—and for us all—

I try on my Cape of Good Hoping

every day,

hoping for a good fit.

And if it fits—well, then I hope.


I hope it fits.




*Inspired by a line from James Loughton's "The Country of Hope"



Copyright 2009 Ann Tudor   

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Are we talking about true joy here or some ersatz version of joy based on false premises and manufactured dreams?


Take your joy when it happens. Celebrate the joy right then and there, because it is rare, fleeting, ephemeral, evanescent, and transitory.


When I think of joyful celebration, I think of my daughter Mary Bin at age six, when she used to say, every morning at breakfast, "Yippie hooray, sour juice today!!" She was sunny and joyful almost always, although why she took to celebrating the orange juice in that way I'll never know.


Each spring I joyfully celebrate the re-awakening of the bulbs in my front garden. Even in Toronto's cold days of late April, the crocuses, the early tulips, and the big lovage plant begin responding to the nudges of spring. They push through the barely thawed earth, through the dusting of snow that frosts the garden, through the mulch-y covering of last summer's leaves. The bulbs poke through, sometimes green leafy tips first, sometimes the flower heads themselves. They're just doing what nature programmed them to do, but they save the day for us. They are a single note of optimism in this increasingly fractious world. (Tulips came originally from Afghanistan, did you know that? Even today, the species tulips I can't resist in the catalogues are sourced from Afghanistan.)


"The force that through the green fuse drives the flower . . ." Who said it better than Dylan Thomas?


Walking past those bright harbingers—those doughty little blooms that greet us even as we remain smothered in heavy wools and high boots—elicits a joyful celebration in our hearts. No leaping in the air, perhaps, but certainly joy.


Actually, I used to leap in the air a lot. I remember, while in college, coming back to my dormitory room and greeting my roommates joyfully, leaping onto a bed and laughing. I remember the joy I felt at being accepted by women I admired and liked. The whole experience was so liberating after the desolate years of high school, where my bookish ways brought me little admiration or acceptance.

Or shall I turn that around: high school, where the lack of acceptance drove me to the escapism of books.

A celebration of joy. It's actually the best way to view life, isn't it? Prayerful joy. Joyful prayer. But it isn't easy to remember this, and it isn't always easy to do it even if you do remember. Ah, well. As they say, losing this awareness of joy just gives us another opportunity to remember it again. To come back to it yet again. To invite joy, once again, into our lives.


Copyright 2009 Ann Tudor