The Things of Hope

December 22, 2020

We all know that the best things in life aren’t things. At least some part of us knows that, even though consumerism runs rampant in our society. We know presence, love, and kindness go farther than anything that can be boxed up and tied with a ribbon. But we also know that material gifts can be symbols of love and even hope. With so much of life lived virtually or physically distanced this year, I am reflecting on actual physical things that I have witnessed in our local community in 2020 which have inspired hope…

…the Buy Nothing Facebook group I’m a part of that builds community through gifts and wishes, allowing used items to be swapped and needs met through generosity.

…the meals Neighboring Volunteers have delivered to the doorsteps of our families.

…the woman who has been building desks for local students so that no child is without a place to learn virtually during the pandemic.

…the lists of Black and Brown-owned businesses that direct people to purchase items and services from those our systems often do not prioritize.

…the abundant furniture and household donations that have allowed our organization’s storage unit to remain full for incoming families.

…the many items that food pantries and the school districts have distributed to ensure that hungry people are fed.

…the food and gifts purchased at local restaurants and shops to help our local businesses stay afloat.

…the Locavore auction donations, the Thanksgiving baskets for our families, and the gift cards donated so that our families can have a brighter Christmas.

…the masks that people are wearing to protect one another from the spread of the virus.

…the grant funds and donations given that allow organizations to continue serving those in need in our community.

…the space Red Front, an empty grocery building, has provided to Open Doors to shelter unhoused community members throughout the colder months.

…the apartments that local landlords have offered to our families at a fair rate so that they can be safe and warm this winter.

These are just some things that have inspired hope in 2020. I could easily make another list based on acts of service. Here’s what’s beautiful – we cannot give or receive a gift without turning toward one another. I’m deeply heartened by the many ways our community has stepped toward one another in such a difficult year. Where have you witnessed hope this year?

May whatever you give or receive this holiday season fill you with joy and hope. Thank you for all you have given to support our families.

My gift to you is this poem by Jan Richardson:


Blessed are you

who bear the light
in unbearable times,
who testify
to its endurance
amid the unendurable,
who bear witness
to its persistence
when everything seems
in shadow
and grief.

Blessed are you
in whom
the light lives,
in whom
the brightness blazes—
your heart
a chapel,
an altar where
in the deepest night
can be seen
the fire that
shines forth in you
in unaccountable faith,
in stubborn hope,
in love that illumines
every broken thing
it finds.

Merry Christmas from all of us at Bridge of Hope Harrisonburg-Rockingham.

The Things of Hope