There is a scene in a BBC miniseries, “Return to Cranford” (the cleverly titled sequel to “Cranford”), in which one of the main characters is lamenting the inevitable destruction of their idyllic Victorian village by encroaching technology (the railroad). In a conversation with her brother she sadly remembers a tale she was told in her childhood, of someone receiving a box with the instruction that it was never to be opened. Being inquisitive (and to move the tale along) the person opens the box, and before it can be closed again every evil and detritus thing that can plague humanity flies out of the box. Her brother, seeing the horror on his sister’s face, waits a moment and then quietly says that the last thing that remained in the box, at the very bottom, was hope.
I feel a little like Pandora now, having been witness to legalized abortion, growing acceptance (sometimes forced acceptance) of same-sex marriage, and of branding with the hot-iron searing saying that Catholics belong to a “bastardization of the faith.”
Hope, that “thing with feathers that perches in the soul” (thank you Miss Dickinson), is not prayer, but an adjunct to prayer and “an opposite to despair” (thank you Father Hardon). A glimmer of what may be. We are human after all, and our frailties, faults, and sinfulness are all obvious to our Lord, who sees, knows, and after all that, loves. And I think he loves us enough to allow us to hope.
I have, in my mind, two “take aways” from the previous President. The first, a reply to a question put to him about abortion and when human life starts he said “that whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.” So not feeling comfortable about knowing when life begins, but feeling completely comfortable with ending life with destroying human life anywhere within the 9-month gestational period is perfectly ok? Talk about “not my president!”
The other thing he said, and this really sends shivers down my spine, was “God bless Planned Parenthood.” He asked the Creator of Life, the Supreme Good, to bless the murder of babies!
This present darkness, to borrow a brilliant phrase from Frank Peretti, has a gloom to it that makes it difficult to find joy. It feels impossible sometimes to hold your head up, to bask in the ever present sunshine, regardless of the spewing madness of Mordor. THe repression of rational thought, the disregard for natural law, and the lack of recognition of a Redeemer and Judge makes it hard to hope. But prayer, that gift we can do so easily and ever so easily forget to do, sometimes provides the feeling of a mothers embrace, or a fathers promise that everythings going to be all right.
The box of horrors that Pandora was given was opened long ago. I feel sometimes that my generation took the box, broke the hinges, ripped off the lid and used it as a Frisbee. But I strive to remember that regardless of how the box is handled, regardless of the fear, horror, and suffering that has been unleashed, there is, and always has been, and always will be, hope.
Please remember to pray for our President.