“Even In Great Despair There Is Hope”

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Some holiday words (can’t call them “cheer,” not this year) from the great blog-father Charlie Pierce.

I hope you’ve all spent a relaxing and enjoyable holiday with family and friends. Tomorrow, the world beckons again and things will not go well, and won’t any time soon, not for a long time.

It will do us all good, I think, to take a weekend off from the cares of a world that seems to be coming apart from its mind outwards. It will do us all good, I think, to take this particular holiday slowly as it comes around. Even the pagans needed some excuse to rejoice in the darkest time of the year, which is why Christians copped the notion in the first place, and this has been a year with more than its share of dark times, god knows. And there’s no telling what’s coming down out of the deep woods come the next turning of the calendar. But very likely it’s something we’ve never seen before, or at least that’s the way I’m betting.

Hope struggled harder against events than it ever has this year, at least as far as I can remember. Between the deaths of iconic figures from Muhammad Ali to Prince to Arnold Palmer to David Bowie [and now George Michael – ed.] and the storm of ominous portents that gathered thickly from every point in the sky almost from the moment the presidential campaign began, hope had a long push up a dirt road in 2016. It may never make it to the top, but we owe hope the honor of spending at least one weekend having faith in hope.
It was a year in which all the pillars cracked and all the mooring lines frayed to breaking. By the end of it, there was no reliable sense of where we were in the world or how we’d gotten there. There were explanations and reasons, excuses and alibis, but none of them were adequate and some of them were downright embarrassing. The simple, ineluctable truth was that, wherever we are, and however we got there, we brought ourselves to this strange place and that, yes, finally, the Master was right again. There was no direction home.

So, as long as we’re all in this alien country in which all the landmarks are familiar, but not entirely so, and changed in some vague way at their foundations, it won’t hurt us to sit down and catch our breath and realize that, in the end, we are all that we have, and to find, if not joy in that, at least some comfort. Coats against the cold, as the late Guy Clark would have said. I don’t know what’s coming next. (Truly, at this point, I don’t even want to guess.) But there will be places to stand against it, if needs be. Those are the places in which we still can have faith in hope, and where we can see through the storm the golden light of one candle in one window. That should be enough for now.

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