Entering a new year and a new decade we are unusually conscious of danger. The natural environment on which our life depends is in danger as never before. And humanity appears powerless to address the crisis. Inequality in society stokes divisive populist politics and stirs conflict, violence and destruction. For sure there is danger.
My Christmas reading led me to a line of the German poet Friedrich Hölderlin – “But where there is danger, salvation also grows.” Might this conviction supply hope for a new decade?
In testing times, it is important to distinguish hope from optimism. There may be few grounds for optimism as we survey a global landscape where reactionary politics threaten the earth’s future and inflict suffering and despair on many. But hope springs from a source that lies deeper than the tides that flow in human affairs.
To find hope in God is not to give up on our earthly life. Quite the opposite. The hope derived from God’s promises and God’s action inspires untiring commitment to work for justice and peace and drives the motivation to pursue righteousness even when it looks like a lost cause.
To turn to God might be to discover the true story of what our world is all about and to find our true calling within it. 900 years ago Hildegard of Bingen offered a vision that we might do well to revisit:
“The Holy Spirit is life-giving life, Mover of the universe and the root of all creation, refiner of all things from their dross, brings forgiveness of guilt and oil for our wounds, is radiance of life, most worthy of worship, wakening and reawakening the universe.”