Just Life

Hope | April 2019.

from this morning’s walk in the park with Lauren

In spite of my very best efforts to let go of hopelessness, I’m not gonna lie, it continues to be a day-by-day thing. But most days, hope wins. The practices I’ve talked about (naming gratitudes, unplugged mornings, contemplation, stillness) are a big help. and this month, I found another one – and some new voices – that have combined to lighten my spirit. I like to think I’m strong enough to do the hard work to find hope in the dark places, but day in day out, it’s exhausting. Light helps. (so does sleep. and taking care of myself with good food and exercise. but I know I’m preaching to the choir about that!)

So I want to tell y’all about my latest lightbulb. It happened two weeks ago. The Pantsuit Politics girls were in Austin and they shared an Instagram photo about a fun morning … and tagged Jen Hatmaker. Jen was a new name for me, but I clicked a few links and discovered she’d written a few (12?!) books, had friends who’d written books I’d heard about, and hosted a podcast … and that her most recent episode was with Fr. Richard Rohr. I dug around a little more and found episodes with Brené Brown and Barbara Brown Taylor (and many other familiar and not-so familiar names … her archives are a real rabbit hole). Bottom line, the credentials checked out. I downloaded a few episodes and started to listen (and by the way, that episode with Fr. Rohr is amazing!) I firmly believe that things happen in the time they’re supposed to happen, but wow! I wish I were 15 years younger so I could be friends with these people! (their message, their passion and their hope would’ve made a difference for me personally.) but still. I can listen now and be hopeful about this just-behind-me generation and what they’re doing for our communities, our country and our world.

In response, I’ve curated my Instagram, newsletter and podcast feed a little more … and all of it now makes me feel, on the balance, hopeful. I do still follow my same news sources, so I’m not completely without balance. (or darkness.) But most days, seeing what folks are making (mostly knitting and sewing), growing, seeing, reading, doing and celebrating seems good. and in that, I can find hope.

…and now the lightbulb. Jen closes each of her podcasts with the question “What is saving your life right now?” She read those words in one of my favorite books, Barbara Brown Taylor’s An Altar in the World and I love that it gives her an opportunity to mention BBT in every podcast! Those words are underlined and ♥’d in my copy (on page xvii … yep, before the book even starts) and I now have a new appreciation for what that question – and the answer – really means. The answer to what’s saving my life right now is what’s found in both hope and gratitude:

  1. spring. longer days. color. birdsong.
  2. my Instagram feed.
  3. podcasts.
  4. my Friday morning small group. reading Richard Rohr’s The Universal Christ and having the opportunity to talk about the revelations with smart, strong, wise and kind women.
  5. stillness. rest. contemplation.
  6. FaceTime.
  7. easy knitting.
  8. morning walks.
  9. gray hair.
  10. this space.

Thank you for reading, commenting (if you’re so inclined – I have tried to make it easy and I promise I’ll respond), and being part of my story. xxoo -M.

and a HUGE thank you to Juliann for hosting our monthly meet-up.


  • Kym

    What a great question! Thanks for such a thoughtful post, Mary. I think it sounds like you are finding all kinds of ways to generate HOPE — for yourself and for others. XO

  • Honore´

    I.AM.SO. GLAD you chose HOPE for your word ‘cause heaven knows we sorely need Hope these days…thank you for sharing all those resources…know I will definitely check them out . I. AM. SO. GLAD that we have this platform to support and honor everyone.

  • Bonny

    I think hope is a tough thing to hold on to, but you are strong enough, are doing the work, and achieving hope. That is an interesting way to frame the question, and I think I’ll start to ask myself that occasionally. Right now it’s poetry.

  • Sarah

    It is comforting to know that others are struggling to find hope in today’s world. I am really trying to remind myself frequently that I can be a source of hop to myself by doing things that improve the world, even if they seem minor and inconsequential. Our synagogue/rabbis have set a theme for the congregation this year: Take one step. It comes from this part of the Talmud: “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” In other words, no one person can repair the ills of the world on his/her own, but at the same time, we can all play a role by doing what we can.

  • Patty

    I love the way that you are exploring and truly living your word Mary. And bringing much food for thought our way too. What’s saving my life right now…a Memorial Day visit from Dan…a new book group…and always your space and the others that we love. xo

  • Margene

    Mylo, spring, blossoms, birds, blue sky, good friends, love. That’s only a few of the things I find keep me going each day. And, each day is different. I have all but given up the darkness part of balance. It’s unreal. I find it so full of disinformation that I can’t partake. So, I find light and love and I’m sticking with it, even if I am an ostrich. 🙂

  • Marilyn Phillips

    All my favorite authors mentioned here. Saddened today (5/4) to learn of the death of Rachel Held Evans. All of these people have helped in saving my life and my faith when I, too, feel hopeless.

  • karen

    beautiful post! I need to do something about instagram, I do not see the people I want to see at all on my feed. I have to hunt people down which makes the experience on instagram unpleasant…

  • Kat

    All of this hope is so vibrant! I can feel the hope seeping through each word and it is truly a wonder. This was the perfect word for you and this time.