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From Fly Creek

April 17, 2014

There's reason to hope

(Continued)

And not just ordinary hope. In daily speech, that word stands for little more than wistful wishing. “I hope it’s not going to rain,” someone says, with a worried glance toward the dark sky. 

But there’s much more to real hope than that. Even the dictionary says “HOPE IS THE FIRM EXPECTATION THAT WHAT IS DESIRED WILL SURELY OCCUR.” 

That’s a tough, more muscular stance than mere wishing.

Hope speaks when we say, “It’s not going to rain!” even as thunder roars and lightning splits the sky.

The Christmas story means to promise just that sort of tough, muscular hope. But it does so with a powerfully disarming image: Infinite power enters human life as a newborn infant. The one who justifies a sturdy hope begins the rescue by taking on our helplessness.

A powerful concept, that, and “O Little Town of Bethlehem” powerfully embodies it. The carol depicts humans shrouded in darkness, asleep under the silent march of distant, indifferent stars. But then it projects light, right into the darkness. It declares that our fears, and those of all the years, are defied, right in our dark streets. Our fears are met, matched, overcome by dazzling hope--by our firm belief that what is desired will surely occur.

That’s a magnificent promise. That’s enough to make oxen bow their massive heads and sink slowly, ponderously, to their knees.

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From Fly Creek
  • 'They were out of step but Jim!' All right, skip the drolleries about the headline. The quote is actually the title of a 1918 song by Irving Berlin, who, with George M. Cohan and other songsmiths, was producing patriotic pieces by the dozen as the Yanks were going "Over There!"

    June 19, 2014

  • Replanting has taken root Lots of boxes still to be unpacked and stuff to be put on shelves and into closets, but Anne's and my shift into Cooperstown is almost done. We're securely replanted at 24 Delaware Street and already feeling at home.

    May 8, 2014

  • There's reason to hope I hadn't planned this piece for my April column, but something happened that was impossible to ignore. Within a week, three different friends (count them, three!) from different parts of the country emailed to say they'd come across an old Crier column that they'd saved for twelve years and had sent to many friends because it meant much to them.

    April 17, 2014

  • Let not thy left hand know That headline's a Bible allusion, trenchant advice not to preen when doing good: "But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth." Amen, I say.

    March 6, 2014

  • How good to be back! "Tis I, the Spirit of a Thousand Columns Past, back after a twelve-month silence to talk at you again in the flesh!"

    January 2, 2014

  • Mammon Triumphs in Turkey Bowl Editor's Note: We're thrilled to announce the return of our columnist, Jim Atwell, and his legendary column "From Fly Creek." Jim's column will be an occasional feature, when he is able to write or he has something he wants to contribute. We celebrate his return with one of his classic columns.

    December 5, 2013

  • Rolling toward a stop I’m slowing down, friends, rolling toward a stop for this column. The best way to describe my reason is through an analogy: I want you to think of me as a horse-drawn wagon and driver â€" not just as the driver, but as the whole shebang.

    December 27, 2012

  • Giving gnomes a home Whack a mole, if you must, but never a gnome. You'd enrage those who dote on them. And there are many such people, though maybe not as many as gnomes. Gnomes are everywhere.

    November 29, 2012

  • Hauling history home Anne and I have a trip ahead of us. We'll be trundling south in our bought-used-but-still-great Mercury Mountaineer SUV.

    November 15, 2012

  • 'So how's it going?' The headline is a question I get a dozen times a day, almost always from friends and neighbors who want a real answer. Bless them for that.

    October 18, 2012