As I set at the bed side of my wife and waited for my son to be born. I could only HOPE for one thing, that he be born healthy and my wife's health remained stable and safe. When he was born, my HOPE was fulfilled in a new life that was and is my son. A healthy young man with a solid first step into this world, with two parents who HOPED for the best and got it. Our HOPES and our dreams, found fulfillment in that moment, that happens millions of times each year for parents everywhere, but only once for us.
Years ago I once set at my friends side and HOPED that cancer would not take them from this world. I HOPED that the odds would work to their advantage, and one day that they would join me in the outdoors again to fish and to feel alive among nature to the full. As I walked up to his coffin an few months later, I realized that my HOPE was not going to be fulfilled this time and thus I said, "good-bye."
In my Witness past, I had many HOPES. I HOPED for a better future, a time of paradise and no war. When people would, "live as one", as John Lennon said in the song Imagine. A time when one religion would reign and one voice of love would be heard. I pictured a garden throughout the planet, with people there to tend to it's beauty, side by side with those whom they loved and those whom they lost in death at this time in their lives. I lived for that HOPE and I dreamed about that HOPE at every moment, and especially when times were tough and challenging. Yet as I walked from that Kingdom Hall for the last time, and never looked back, that HOPE was left empty and that HOPE never found fulfillment in twenty-five years.
Now in this life I have been presented with people who claim to have new HOPES. HOPE of heaven, HOPE of Nirvana and maybe even HOPE that this life is not all there is. In all, they are nice to consider, much like the HOPES I held on to for so many years in my past. Yet in the end, they are not the HOPES I truly put before me in this life. Not the HOPES that make today, worth living through to get to tomorrow.
No, those days of living for what HOPE might occur, have passed. I do not mind considering them, thinking about them or talking about them with friends, but for me a true HOPE is something that at least seems and feels possible. A true HOPE is something we know can happen and look forward to with every breath and thought of reality. It is HOPE that my son will grow older and I will teach him such things as how to throw a baseball. A HOPE of seeing him walk at high school graduation and far down the road, a HOPE of one day holding my own grandchild and seeing in his eyes the same simple and loving HOPES I see in my sons eyes right now. For my son is not bogged down with what life's philosophies will teach him, with what life's religions will promise. No his HOPE is to get feed, to get changed and to get loved all that he can in these young and precious years.
So when my relatives that are Witnesses say, "how can you live a life without the HOPE you had before, or any HOPE at all?" I turn to them and say, "I have HOPES, HOPES beyond what you ever consider. HOPES that you take for granted and let pass, because you are to busy looking for HOPES that will never get here." I live not for the unreachable HOPES, of a religion that thinks they are right or a philosophy that answers some questions. I live for this life and the HOPES of joys to come tomorrow, next week and those that may shock me in the still undetermined future. They do not pass by with the thought that there will soon be HOPE of something better. No, they pass into me with the HOPE of knowing how precious the things are that I have.
So if it happens, and we all know it will, that your Witness relative says something to you about not having HOPE. Do not be confused into thinking, "perhaps I do not." Be strong and knowing that unlike the past. You truly do now, have the HOPE and the fulfillment of HOPES that you always wanted. They may not find their fulfillment within the hour, the week or even this year. Yet unlike the Witness HOPE of that paradise earth, your current HOPES are really out there. They may not come into fulfillment with the desired HOPES I had with my son, for life is not all about things happening the way you HOPED for. As what we think we want, is not always what we really need. Yet in the end, having real HOPE and knowing what you want from this life. Is better then losing HOPE, all together, or HOPING in the unreachable dreams of a religion's empty promises.
My all your HOPES for this life, be only moments away.