Friday, February 09, 2007
Carnival of Hope: Volume 1, Number 6
Welcome to the February Carnival of Hope! I want to thank everyone who submitted a post this month, even if I didn't use it.
Next month's CoH will be posted on Friday, March 9; the submission deadline is Thursday, March 8 at 5 PM PST. It's hard to believe that Daylight Savings Time will begin the following Sunday! This month, I didn't have a theme, and got more submissions than usual, so the March carnival will also be theme-less. Just send me your best posts, please! You can use the Blog Carnival submission form or write directly to me at SusanPal (at) aol (dot) com. Please include the permalink for the post and a two or three line description.
CoH is being posted later than usual this month because I've been so busy at work. I also didn't have time to do anything fun like come up with photos for each post, the way I did last month. For health reasons, I've been making exercise a priority lately, which means that I've been spending an hour or two a day at the gym and have fallen behind on a lot of other things.
Last night, my husband and I came home after a concert, and even though I knew I should work on this edition, I was so tired that I had to go to bed. So I agree fully with Tiel Aisha Ansari's witty poem Thank God for Sleep. Tiel's a talented poet, and I encourage you to read more widely on her blog, Knocking From Inside. And while we're on the subject of poetry, Rays of Sunlite praises Rumi's work, a perennial source of hope for many people, in Children of One Faith.
Many of our posts this month celebrate how other people inspire us. That process begins, if we're lucky, in our families, as Karen Shanley reminds us in her gorgeous Painting the Air, a deeply moving and beautifully written post honoring her father. Josh Bickford shares another wonderful family story in his lovely tribute to his mother.
Sometimes it's difficult for us to realize how interdependent we are with all people, even if they aren't relatives. Karen Lynch shares her experience of learning to ask for help -- and being gratified by the results -- in Open Up to the Love of the Universe. This isn't an easy realization to come to, however. Although 12-Step programs have saved countless lives, many people balk at admitting that they're powerless over their problems. Isabella Mori wrestles with this process, and discovers that hope is the flip side of powerlessness, in the first step.
Even when we've accepted our interdependence with other people, however, life in community can be profoundly aggravating and stressful, especially for those in leadership positions. Clergy, who have infamously high rates of burnout, know this better than anyone. For at least some ministers, though, the rewards are worth it, as PT Pastor tells us in his post about why he serves a congregation.
Even two people can form a community, and sometimes, even someone we haven't seen for years can help us rediscover old priorities and act on them -- especially if that person has maintained faith in us and continued hoping for our success in projects we've abandoned. Craig Harper tells such a story in Where did the Dreamer Go?
We don't have to meet people in person to inspire them. Writing crosses miles, erasing distance and providing powerful catalysts for change. Laura Young wrote an article that had a profound effect on a woman named Sue Weiland in what turned out to be the last moments of Sue's life. When Sue's family contacted Laura to let her know how important her words had been, a relationship was born out of tragedy. Laura shares the outcome of this story in her post about meeting Sue's family.
Sue Weiland's loved ones have become activists as a result of her murder, using their own loss to help others. On a slightly lighter note, Leonard Alexander tells us about Kim Evans, who decided that she didn't want her disability anymore and auctioned it off on Ebay to raise money for research. Many of us would love to be able to give our medical problems away -- but although no one would choose any kind of illness, it sometimes has unexpected benefits, as Lee Long reminds us in her post describing hopeful news about depression.
Often, there's no apparent upside to illness. Patients can still find sources of hope and comfort, though. In my work as a volunteer hospital chaplain, I've discovered that many patients are sustained in part by their love for their pets.
While we learn ways to cope with the illnesses that cause such pain and loss in our lives, all of us would rather see cures for these conditions. A cure for cancer remains a perennial hope, the Holy Grail of much medical research. Chris Johnson describes one promising discovery in Cheap Cure for Cancer? I have to admit that I'm always skeptical of such claims, so I was glad that Chris linked to a Daily Kos blog post criticizing this research, and cautioning us against false hope.
Some people know from a very early age that their purpose in life is to help find a cure for cancer. For most of us, though, figuring out why we're here is a bit more complicated. Moses E. Miles III defines our purpose in life as our ministry, whether we're religious or not. In a two-part post, here and here, Miles tells us how he recovered from adversity and found his own purpose. He also links to a post by Steve Pavlina decribing how to discover your life purpose in about twenty minutes. As regular readers of this blog know, I'm very skeptical of such claims, but this one actually makes sense to me. (And I was amused by the subtitle of Steve's blog: "Personal Development for Smart People.")
Our life purposes don't have to involve huge changes; in fact, they usually start small. Mallory learns this when she resolves to take Baby Steps to Changing the World. (This page takes a while to load, at least on my browser, so please be patient.) When we're ready for slightly bigger steps, we can begin practicing the discipline of trying to understand, empathize with, and respect all points of view in any given conflict, which is surely one of the necessary prerequisites for peace (as elusive a goal as a cure for cancer). D.A.N. illustrates this process in his post about respecting everyone touched by war.
And since changing the world almost always involves letting go of old values and flying in the face of received wisdom, it's worth remembering that the labels and numbers other people attach to us aren't always important. Matthew Paulson shares one example of unconventional wisdom in I Have a Credit Score of Zero . . . And I Love It!.
And that's it for this month. I welcome your comments and feedback, and I hope you'll come back in March!