(Certain portions adapted from September 2017 article in The Lamplighter.)
About a month ago, I received an invitation to one of those parties mostly women attend where we gather around, eat food, and listen to a sales pitch, all before leafing through product offerings in order to find something to satisfy our purchasing obligation.
Since I'm generally always up for a get-together and because it meant spending time with family members I rarely see, I accepted the invitation without really knowing exactly what I was accepting.
As I arrived at the party and walked in the door, to my right was a tabled lined with jewelry. I know there are plenty of jewelry companies putting together sales demonstrations (although I've never actually been to one) and upon seeing the table, my reaction was slightly mixed. I mean, who doesn't like jewelry!? Of course I like jewelry, but for some reason it falls into the category of "frivolous" to me. I have grand ideas and desires for it until it comes time to pull out my wallet and then I suddenly feel like this is so unnecessary. So with that said, there was a bit of hesitation in my heart about this one.
We mingled a bit before making our way to the living room where the saleswoman began her pitch. This pitch, however, was different than any I've experienced before as the woman described the heart behind this company in which women create jewelry and other items by hand in countries where their suffering is greater than most of us can ever imagine. These women are given a new chance at life through their job and the video she showed us depicted some of them expressing authentic gratitude for the hope they have been given through their work.
It was a heartwarming story but I will admit that when the time came to order, I easily allowed their stories to be just that: stories. I found a reason not to purchase just about everything - until I saw a set of journals. Hey, I’m a writer! Sold!
Having placed my obligatory order including the journals and a "frivolous" bracelet, I waited no longer than three days for the package to arrive at my doorstep. As I carefully opened the box, I realized just how unprepared I was for what came next.
As I held the handmade journal in my hands and ran my fingers along its spine, it was as if I could feel the fingers of its maker entwined with mine. Delicately wrapped in kancu leaves with a button closure, bound together with handmade paper soft as fabric - it felt like a blanket warming my soul. I allowed myself to hold it still while envisioning the woman who made it and I felt such emotion with this new connection, a connection made around the world through one small item.
Among the emotions I felt was an overwhelming sense of togetherness we share. Despite the fact we come from much different circumstances thousands of miles apart, will never know each other’s name or swap stories about our children, we are connected. We are connected by hope. We are connected by strength. We are connected by resilience. Most of all, we are connected through God, the one who made it all possible.
I have written several other times about my own struggle with hope and hopelessness. As my logo indicates, I am a dreamer. I am a believer. But I am also impatient. Make that VERY impatient. I struggle with acknowledging that I have much power in my own life. I fight demons of unworthiness and on my darkest days, the lofty dreams I do have feel more like the hugest mountains to climb. It is in those times when I feel like giving up.
But it was as I held the box in my hands, then as I felt the journal, then again as I wrote on its handmade pages, that I realized: there is always hope in this world. It does not matter if we always feel it ourselves, whether it is within reach at this moment or half way around the world; there is hope.
I think of the woman binding my journal together with her hands worn with worries of life, the smile brought to her face through restored hope, and the new opportunities provided to her children. I think of her undying dream that one day she will conquer her own demons; and, I understand that no matter how high my own climb may seem, there is always someone to help me up.
If we allow ourselves to fully feel the connection we share by simply being human, our sense of belonging has no choice but to overwhelm hate, lift us up, and inspire us. If we allow ourselves to soak in the energy of others when we have little of it ourselves, it can help us through the darkest of days.
I got more than I paid for with this purchase as its package arrived in my mailbox with far more than just a journal. It arrived with a refill of hope, straight from hands of the maker.
This experience inspired me in an unexpected way and I have decided to begin something new which I'm calling Project Hope. I would love if you could help me out by filling out the short form below and answering just two short questions about your view of hope.
I would also love to know who you are, but if you are more comfortable, you can certainly answer anonymously. Your responses will directly inspire hope in those who need it and I appreciate any input and help you can give!