Each year on Epiphany my church lets us choose a star word as part of worship. This is a word that can travel with us all year as a guide or a focus. In worship today we had the chance to share our word for 2022 and how it was relevant for us. I was playing the organ at another church on Epiphany last year so I choose my own word, hope.
Because I love music so much I also love poetry. I have a journal with an Emily Dickinson poem on the cover.
Comparing hope to a bird is fitting because hope is never a heavy presence but rather something I cannot quite put my fingers on, yet I know it is always there. The ability of a bird to survive storms amazes me. On the coldest days I see flocks of birds hunting for food. Now that it is winter I am able to look up in the leafless trees to see all the nests. It takes much persistence to build a warm nest secure from the wind and rain one tiny component at a time.
On spring and summer mornings our old barn usually has several turkey buzzards sitting on top. They are not pretty nor do they make a pleasant sound. Their song reminds me of a small mammal in distress. How can hope be like a turkey buzzard?
I recently found a different perspective on hope attributed to Matthew Crow.
The very same Hope likened to a song bird is the very same courageous, rugged presence we see in turkey buzzards, hawks, owls, and eagles. Hope exists in the harshest conditions. Hope does not ask or require anything of us.
For me, hope is the opposite of positivity (a word I dislike). If positivity does not work out, it means you have lost or failed. Hope always wins. Positivity says, “You’re going to beat this.” Hope says, “I am going to fully live all the days I’m given.” Positivity says, “Stay cheerful and upbeat because that will help you remain alive.” Hope allows me to sob into my pillow in the middle of the night, yet still rejoice and thank God the next morning for being granted another day. Hope sits with me in the examining room as I wait for scan results, knowing that whatever the outcome, I will choose a path to move forward. Hope allows me to doubt and grieve. Hope allows me to falter and fear. With hope I can appreciate today no matter what happens tomorrow.
Hope lets me bury ugly dead- looking flower bulbs in the ground in the fall and rejoice at the gorgeous flowers that grow and bloom in the spring. This thought led to the creation of Heidi’s Hope in 2022. We raised thousands of dollars for My Density Matters so that women learn what breast density is and to stop the insanity of women being diagnosed with late stage breast cancer because the cancer could not be seen in their annual mammograms.
This beautiful tree sat at the front of church today and we could choose a new star word for 2023 as we returned to our seats from communion. I wanted to blindly choose a word so I reached to the back of the tree and grabbed a star. As I began to pull the star off the tree I realized another star was on top of it on the branch so I switched to the other word and pulled it off.
I still cannot believe I randomly pulled HOPE from the tree for my 2023 star word. Desmond Tutu said, “ Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the the darkness.” My world is filled with light and I want to share that with all of you in 2023.