From time to time, all of us find ourselves stuck - stuck in our emotions, stuck in our situation, stuck in our thought patterns.
Unless we sort this out, we are in danger of falling into depression, even despair.
We can also start to lose hope. And without hope, we are in deep waters… stuck, and susceptible to both physical and mental health issues (all major health problems in the western world develop from being stuck).
I have had a number of experiences in my life that have shown me that with hope, there is always a way forward, even if things seem impossible. As long as you still have hope and never let go of it, there is a crack of light. It may seem like there isn’t one, you might not see it, it may take a miracle. But if there is hope, the way is always close at hand.
The Irish have blessing: “May the path rise before you”. It was was traditionally given by an Irish person to a friend or companion who is leaving. I discovered it, written inside the cover an atlas, given to to me by an Irish lady I hardly knew and I have never forgotten it. The atlas was the map or the way; the blessing was the hope.
One particular experience in my life comes to mind which illustrates how hope worked for me. Some of you may have read part of this story in a post on my Facebook page recently; this is the full story.
Some years ago, I was with a small group trekking in the Himalaya Mountains. We had reached a high point close to Everest base camp and were at a standstill; one of our group had altitude sickness and needed to recover for a day or so.
Myself and another trekker decided to go for a walk for a few hours in order to stay warm (the temperatures were freezing, down to -28 degrees celsius at night).
We walked away from our hut and spent a few hours exploring the lunar-like landscape. There was no growth, no landmarks. It was bleak and desolate terrain. We had to stop often on our climb, as in the rarified air as it was difficult to breathe. We climbed a small peak - nothing compared to the snow-capped peaks around us - but for us it was an achievement still.
The day was closing in, when we decided to head back to our camp.
I asked my companion, who was an army navigator, "which way back?"
He looked at me blankly.
"I don't know," he said.
I had naively left it to him to take bearings and know which way to go, given he was a ‘navigator’.
"Shit!" I said out loud.
Our predicament was suddenly very clear. Night was coming and it was below freezing. We had no tent, no sleeping bags, no food, no one having any idea where we were or where to start looking.
I could see things could get very tricky very quickly if we had to spend the night out on these conditions
I closed my eyes and prayed.
"Help!" I inwardly yelled inside myself.
I opened my eyes and looked down. There wedged between two rocks was a tiny white flower, which I could have sworn wasn’t there before I closed my eyes.
Deep within I heard a voice speak: "HOPE".
"This way," I yelled out to him, as I picked up the responsibility for the both of us.
"Thats not the way!” my companion said.
"Shut up," I heard myself say, having now lost faith in my companion’s abilities. "This is the way we are going."
I walked off with purpose, yet had no idea where I was going. My intuition was leading me now.
An hour later as we stumbled into our camp, the voice said spoke again and said:
"There's always a way."
We were safe.
I will never forget my beacon of hope - the tiny white flower.
1. There is always a way, as long as you hold that belief. Never lose hope.
2. Always carry the responsibility for yourself; don’t just assume someone else will take care of it.