Hope, Part 1

As the days get darker and anxieties seem to expand, we asked faculty and graduate students to share a favorite quotation on the theme of hope. They were happy to oblige. Indeed, we received so many that this is the first of two posts on the subject. (The next will run on Tuesday, November 3.)
Phil Nel, Professor

RICHARD: But shall I live in hope?
ANNE: All men I hope live so.
— William Shakespeare, Richard III (1592-1593), Act I, scene 2
chosen by Kara Northway, Associate Professor

Do not lose hope—what you seek will be found. Trust ghosts.
Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn.
Trust dreams. Trust your heart, and trust your story.
— Neil Gaiman, Instructions (2000)
chosen by Traci Brimhall, Associate Professor

Hope is not a door, but a sense that there might be a door at some point, some way out of the problems of the present moment even before that way is found or followed.
— Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark (2004)
chosen by Anne Longmuir, Professor

Hope is not blind optimism. It’s not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It’s not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and to work for it, and to fight for it. Hope is the belief that destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by the men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.
— Barack Obama, Iowa Caucus speech (3 Jan. 2008)
chosen by Roger Friedmann, Instructor

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
— Emily Dickinson, “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers –” (c. 1861)
chosen by J. Edgar Mihelic (MA ’21)

Kindness eases change.
Love quiets fear.
And a sweet and powerful
Positive obsession
Blunts pain,
Diverts rage,
And engages each of us
In the greatest,
The most intense
Of our chosen struggles.
― Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents (1998)
chosen by Cydney Alexis, Associate Professor

“That oak tree, it was somewhere near here in the forest. There was such an affinity between us,” he thought. “But where was it?” As he wondered, he glanced across left and, unconsciously, without recognizing it, began to admire the very tree that he was looking for. The old oak was completely transformed, now spreading out a canopy of lush, dark foliage and stirring gently as it wallowed in the evening sunshine. No trace now of the gnarled fingers, the scars, the old sadness and misgivings. Succulent young leaves with no twigs had burst straight through the hard bark of a hundred years; it was almost incredible that this old fellow should have grown them.
— Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (1869)
chosen by Katherine Karlin, Associate Professor

All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair—
The bees are stirring—birds are on the wing—
And Winter slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!
And I the while, the sole unbusy thing,
Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.

Yet well I ken the banks where amaranths blow,
Have traced the fount whence streams of nectar flow.
Bloom, O ye amaranths! bloom for whom ye may,
For me ye bloom not! Glide, rich streams, away!
With lips unbrightened, wreathless brow, I stroll:
And would you learn the spells that drowse my soul?
Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve,
And Hope without an object cannot live.
— Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Work Without Hope” (1825)
chosen by D.K. Smith, Associate Professor

Listen. To live is to be marked. To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals really know.
— Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible (1998)
chosen by Abby Knoblauch, Associate Professor

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