How infinite is our hope?

The mail arrives. From the pile you pick up a thin envelope from a school you applied to. Experience taught you the meaning of a thin envelope. It doesn’t mean good news. No. To the contrary. It means rejection. You know this from experience. Your mind is well aware of this reality. The answer is certain, yet still there remains that little voice in the back of your mind. But what if the voice asks quietly? What if you are mistaken and it does contain good news? You try to silence this voice. Stop it, you yell under your breath. Stop with the nonsense. After all you know what a thin envelope symbolizes. You know this reality very well. But the voice doesn’t go away. It is not silenced completely. Only the volume decreases. It’s a whisper now. What if it’s good news it sings. It is possible it hums. Despite the presence of the much louder voice, the one that has experience and logic as witnesses, this whisper of hope, this humming of possibility starts to excite your imagination and stirs your heart. Under this pretext between reason and hope you finally open the envelope and the truth is revealed. You knew it all along. Experience and logic taught you this certainty. And when a different thin envelope from a different school arrives the song of hope arises once again. It seduces you to believe in possibility even when you are certain of the outcome. What if, is the voice of hope that is never silenced within us.

How infinite is our hope? I once heard someone say even the man who is about to be executed and for whom death is certain, hopes in that last moment his executioner will pull back, have mercy and the execution will be abandoned.

How infinite is our hope? When we all think about our future, make our plans for next year as a new year is upon us or set milestones for our lives in the next 10 years, those thoughts for each and every one of us will be positive, thriving under the embrace of hope. For some of us it maybe to lose weight, to finally travel the world, to seek knowledge, to become a better person, to be accepted to that program we applied to, to start an exciting new path, to get a better job, buy a new house, be more financially secure, pay off loans, to find love, get married, or start a family. Our goals and thoughts for the future may differ from one individual to another, but what is certain for all of us is that we all look toward the future through the lens of hope. Not one of us when we think about the future will envision a car accident, a plane crash, becoming disabled, being diagnosed with a deadly disease, becoming a victim of a crime, caught in a deadly storm, or losing everything we have. Yet these tragedies happen to people just like us every day and around us. But this is not how we think. And perhaps it’s a survival mechanism for our species to look through the lens of hope.

How infinite is our hope? The clash between hope and fear are most distinct and intensely felt for me when I am on a plane, thousands of feet above ground. I imagine most of us get on the plane, locate our seats, and put our head phones on to watch a movie, listen to music, or for others read a newspaper, work on a business task or read a book. For others it’s to catch a short nap. For most it’s probably thinking about the final destination, the landing, and what awaits them once they land. I have been on my share of planes and I have never set foot in one without fear. I have never thought about the final destination until the certainty of the landing has occurred only then could I think about what was next. And when I am in the air and look down at the earth and stare at the clouds I am deeply humbled. It is during these moments that I am most aware of my Creator and my vulnerability as a human being. So I pray. If the plane encounters turbulence, my heart leaps from the fear so I pray much harder and hope for mercy. Due to my Islamic faith I am always between hope and fear. This is the reason with every mention of the future I add Insha’Allah or God Willing. It’s tattooed in my heart even if my mouth doesn’t utter it. I am conscious of this all the time, conscious of both triumph and tragedy in life. So I hope for the best in the future, I imagine a blessed journey for myself as we all hope for regardless of our backgrounds and simultaneously even more intensely I seek refuge in Allah SWT from harm.


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