In Need of a Little Hope


“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

In the chorus of songbirds that swoop through the meadow behind our home, one bird stands out from the rest. He perches at the top of the tallest tree, and he entertains us with song all day long. Every morning, we wake to his chirping as the sun rises. He sings through the hours of the day, then he lulls us to sleep with his song as the night curtain falls. He never fails to show up at the top of the spruce, day after day after day.

A few nights ago, while trying to sleep over my husband’s snoring, I heard faint birdsong outside my window at one a.m. I shook my man in an effort to dislodge his latest snort, and propped myself up on an elbow. I strained my ear towards the glass, and I heard the rise and fall of the same bird’s song.

Dickinson’s line ran through my head as I listened to the bird sing his wordless tune in the wee hours. I felt God whisper in my spirit that the notes spilling out into the thick summer night were meant for me. Hope is in short supply lately. I’ve stood by and watched with a sinking heart as others succeed in their endeavors, while I continue to fail and fail and fail. You can bet if I have desired or dreamt or created something, it is unceremoniously crushed. If I have knocked on a door, another less appealing door in the opposite direction opens in response.

Do you find yourself here too? Are you holding onto hope by a single note, straining to hear the thread of a tune? I could offer you platitudes and soft answers, but the truth is, waiting and praying and dreaming while holding onto hope hurts. It feels like grasping at air, a gathering of notes that float away as soon as they catch a hint of wind.

The noise of our failures get in the way of our soul’s ability to hear the tune. But it’s still there, perched like a bird high on a branch. Wordless, distant, beautiful. I remember the words of the prophet Habakkuk, and I know all things have an appointed time. This time is meant for waiting, for listening, and for allowing hope to rise like a song from the center of my chest.

“For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end–it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” ~Habakkuk 2:3