This Week's Sunday Message

The Angels of Hope and Possibilities

Reverend Arlyn Macdonald Picture

I am always amazed about the lives of people we know little about who influenced humanity. I was thinking about the Angel of Hope and a phrase came to mind that is attached to the word "hope" in my personal mental library. That phrase is "hope springs eternal." How many of you know that phrase?

I can't remember when I first heard it or why it stuck with me so I decided to do more research to find out who actually created it. It was Alexander Pope, an 18th century English poet, who lived 1688 to 1744.That's about the time of the sailing of the Mayflower to America. Here is the stanza on hope he wrote in "An Essay on Man."

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blessed:
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

Pope was born at a time when the Church of England was in deep dispute about everything Catholic. Catholics were shunned, legally forbidden to teach, attend a university, vote or hold public office. If they were caught doing any of the above they would go to prison indefinitely. Pope's aunt taught him to read and he did go to two underground Catholic schools, but basically, he educated himself by reading the classics.

When he was a teenager, his family had to leave their home in London, because Catholics were no longer allowed to live within ten miles of London or Westminster, the seat of the Church of England. He learned several languages and when he was older joined the literary circles of society. From age 12 he suffered from a type of tuberculosis, which stunted his growth. As an adult he was only 4'6" tall, had a hump, and respiratory problems for the rest of his life. But hope springs eternal and Pope became famous as an essayist and poet.

He translated the Iliad and the Odyssey into English from the original Greek and wrote many famous essays. He also tried to retranslate Shakespeare into easier language, but this work was not well accepted. Pope is the second most quoted English poet, the first being Shakespeare.

His Essay on Man is an affirmative poem of faith. He explains that man has a limited mindset and intellect and can only see the partial truth. (Our brains are not able to conceive of the power of God.) The universe functions in a rational fashion according to natural laws and is whole and perfect. (There is order to the universe.) Man is in the middle stage between the animals and the angels. (Many traditions teach this concept that our next evolutionary stage is to become an angel.) If we can accept this, we can be happy and productive. (We can have hope that the next stage of our existence will be even better.) Man must strive to be good regardless of the circumstances. (Humans have an innate sense of good as given to us by the Creator.)

I find Pope's ideas fascinating because they are another portion of the truth that comes through every age. And I like his belief that we are on our way to becoming angels. I also like the idea that the universe is unfolding according to natural laws. One of these laws is that what we see at the present moment in any situation is not the whole truth, not the whole story of our lives. As the McCormick's say in their book, Horses and the Mystical Path, "We do not presume that our perceptions in the moment tell the whole story; the greatest mysteries often reveal themselves beyond our limited viewpoints." This tells us that we should not base our success or failure on the how we feel in the moment or any other moment, but look at the larger picture of who we are.

Hope does spring eternal. Sam Levine, MD, in a Psychology Today article says, "When we are in deep turmoil, we all 'light our internal candles' of hope. There have surely been times in your own life when your problems seemed insurmountable, yet you retained your inner hope which enabled you to overcome, turn things around, and grow in personal wisdom and as a person." I like that thought, that hope helps us grow in personal wisdom.

Hope then is that inner gift from our Creator that helps us through the hard times. In fact, it is in the hard times that we find this gift. It is hope that we hold onto when we don't understand and don't want to accept what life is presenting at the moment. In the metaphysical way of thinking, our hope helps open our perspectives and we can see more clearly what needs to be done to make those life changes. Hope sparks our determination to find our own solutions.

It is really hope that all the agencies give to people who are in need. It is not food, or clothing or a place to live. It is hope that tomorrow will be better. These messages of hope from Spirit are the Angels of Hope.

All of this thinking about the Angel of Hope led me to think about the Angel of Possibilities. I believed for a long time that when we open our minds, we can see all the possibilities for resolving a situation. It has come to my attention recently in doing research for the Ministerial and Spiritual Life Coaching classes that the possibilities we see, even though they may seem unlimited, are not. They are only the possibilities we allow ourselves to see through the filters of our beliefs and the experiences that support our beliefs.

For example, when we are ill, we may see only medical possibilities and limit our thinking to only those solutions. We may not see other possibilities such as healing through a better diet, or healing through natural herbs, or healing through the power of prayer, or many other possibilities. We see only what fits into our belief system.

How many times have we limited our possibilities without even realizing it? In order to expand our possibilities, we must first release the belief that only we are right, that only the possibilities we see at this moment are the only ones available to us. If God is omnipresent and all powerful, how can we limit that presence and power through our current human understanding? God is in every possibility.

What would the Angel of Possibilities tell us about opening our hearts? One message would be to listen to our souls and consciously practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty. Or find a way to give someone else an Angel Blessing. I hope you have been doing the Weekly Spiritual Practice of random acts of kindness every week this month. When we are aware of possibilities to be kind, we open to more possibilities in our own lives.

I conclude with this story about two brothers from Chicken Soup for the Soul. They lived and worked together on the family farm. One was married and had a large family. The other was single. At the day's end, the brothers shared everything equally, produce and profit.

One day the single brother said to himself, "It's not right that we should share equally the produce and the profit. I'm alone and my needs are simple." So, each night he took a sack of grain from his bin and crept across the field between their houses, dumping it into his brother's bin.

Meanwhile the married brother said to himself, "It's not right that we should share equally. After all, I'm married and I have my wife and children to look after me in years to come. My brother has no one and no one to take care of his future." So, each night he took a sack of grain and dumped it into his brother's bin.

Both men were puzzled for years because their supply of grain never dwindled. Then one dark night the two brothers bumped into each other and each one was carrying a sack of grain. Slowly it dawned on them what was happening. They dropped their sacks and embraced one another.

The Angels of Hope and Possibilities were working hand in hand with these two brothers. Each carried the hope that the other brother would be cared for and each took action on a possibility that would work. And that is the secret of these angels and all the other angels. We are to act on their messages.

Gandhi said, "It's the action, not the fruit of the action that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result."

The actions that we take in this spiritual community do make a difference.

We may not see the fruits of those actions today, but they will bear fruit. The actions you take in kindness and compassion also make a difference. They give hope to others. They open eyes to new possibilities that may bear fruit years down the road. I like to think we are planting seeds of Truth. We don't know when those seeds will grow and bear fruit, but that is the nature of all seeds. It is God's will that the seeds God created will grow. Hope does spring eternal.

We can't help growing either. We all started from seeds and by our divine nature, we will also bear fruit. Let us grow our fruits from seeds of peace and compassion, kindness and joy. We do make a difference. You make a difference. Namaste.