What, exactly, is “hope”. Is it the same thing as a wish? As more than a dream but less than a want? Is hope a fervent prayer, but one which you aren’t sure will be answered (or at least, answered positively)?
It’s a funny kind of word.
Saying “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow” conveys a completely different emotion than hearing about someone who found a way to “keep hope alive in difficult circumstances”.
But in each case I could think of, hope was self-focused. Hope is always the verb that is done by the main subject.
And in this month of Elul, it’s entirely appropriate to think that way. To send our praise and gratitude heavenward accompanied by a small packet of requests – hopes for the future, our hopes for those around us, and of course hopes for ourselves.
But I’d like to suggestion that we also have an opportunity – in these last few moments before the Days of Awe are upon us – to BE hope. To notice those around us who hope for better. I’m not referring to tzedakah, although there’s plenty of opportunity for that as well.
I’m talking about a chance to offer friendship, or help, or expertise. Those things which could make a difference to them and don’t really cost you anything.
Look around you and you may be surprised how easy it is to notice the things people hope about.
And in that moment, as you find that you have at your disposal the means to give hope to someone else, you may find you have tapped into something primal and awesome.
And may you find, as you stand before the Eternal Source of Hope, that those things you wished and dreamed and desired and prayed about – those hopes – are fulfilled as well.