To view life as a journey that must be taken, is one of the grand themes of storytelling. Like all of the grand themes, it rings true for us because on some fundamental level, we experientially know it to be true. But isn’t this just a trick of retrospection, attempting to make sense of all of the events and circumstances that unavoidably collide with our life? Aren’t we simply affirming our own narrative — pretending our life has meaning by pretending our life is going somewhere? This is the tension found between hope and despair.
The concept of hope is best understood as a form of faith, which isn’t really too surprising, given that what we often place our hope in, is where we have likely already placed some measure of our faith. Conversely, despair comes on us like a capsizing of our will to live, swamping us under the weight of relentless doubt. So it would seem we are ever pulled between hope and hopelessness — the beauty and the wonder, the heartache and the pain, that mark the path all along our way . . . each one of us alone –yet, all of us together, alone.
But still, it is an act of faith to embrace as true something that you can’t actually prove to be true. And even though this is a point of consternation, confounding the atheist who imagines themselves above the intellectual fray of faith beliefs – it remains axiomatic, nonetheless. In this way, faith and hope have an intellectually tenable dimension. But even so, hope isn’t really found in a cognitive vacuum, but rather, in our real world engagement of life – where the sharp edges of reality aren’t really impressed with what you think you know, because it’s going to drop the hammer on everything you’ve chosen to believe . . . just to see if it will last. Which is why the beliefs we hold will either go the distance, or be exposed as delusion.
Therefore, it’s no wonder we draw meaning and significance from believing that life has purpose. Now, this is either a feature of ontological design, because life actually does have a purpose – or purpose is a fiction contrived out of a self-referencing delusion, where there ultimately is no purpose to life . . . and the best we can do is pretend that one exists. Hope disenfranchised from a purposeful framing of existence is unsustainable. But when hope is hardwired to a purposeful beginning — it will always find it’s way to a hopeful conclusion.
Every journey has a destination in mind, a place it’s taking you. Now, your personal story might have taken a few wrong turns along the way, in fact, so many wrong turns that you no longer even recognize your journey once begun. Leaving you to feel lost and disillusioned until despair begins to occupy your every stray moment — until like the prodigal son all you can think about is going home . . . in hope that there will still be a place for you there. But that porch light has been left on for you a long time, and your Father is more than eager to run out and welcome you home. This is why when hope leads you home, the things that matter most — just fall into place.
Even if it’s a long way home . . .