Spiritually Speaking - Hope vs. Despair

Written by Sister Mary Thill. Posted in Taking Care of Your Life

I don't know about you, but I’ve been struggling with the implications of what has been happening in our country and our world over the past four years and especially saddened about what happened to us as a nation on January 6th of this new year.

The title of this article expresses where I stand on any given day of the week. As a vowed religious woman in the Catholic Church, as a Christian among other Christians, as a friend of the women and men in a Muslim/Christian dialogue group, I am very aware of the many differences we face in our country and I am overwhelmingly aware of the many ways we are the same. I can only hope and pray that all the newly elected leaders of our country will focus on our commonalities and be willing to dialogue with one another about the real significant differences.

As is my custom, I turn to leaders I respect because of their own struggles with life’s challenges and look to them for insight and wisdom as I try to be hopeful and true to who I am and what I have come to believe. I often learn that I need to change my mind about someone or something when I take the time to get to know the facts and the truth about a situation. Jumping to conclusions is an exercise I’m quite good at and need to work on if I want to live peacefully interiorly and exteriorly.

As we move toward a better world and try to find different ways to deal with the pandemic and political challenges we face, I can only hope and pray that many of us will be willing to examine how and when we may need to change our attitudes toward so many of the institutions in society that don’t seem to reflect what it is we need now in this 21st century.

May I share with you, in light of what may yet happen this year and in the years to come, these thoughts from Leila Ahmed, quoted from A Border Passage, 1999. I think it expresses an important truth for this day and age.

For the truth is, I think that we are always plural.

Not either this or that.

And we always embody in our

multiple shifting consciousness

a convergence of traditions, cultures, histories

coming together in this time and place

and moving like rivers through us.

And I know now that the point is to look back

with insight and without judgment,

and I know now that it is of the nature of being in this place…

that there will always be new ways

to understand what we are living through,

and that I will never come to a point of rest

or of finality in my understanding.

As I continue to reflect on my dilemma between my sense of hope vs. despair, I find some peace with Leila’s words. I hope you do too!

Sister Mary Thill is a Sylvania Franciscan Sister. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.