My Father Taught Me About Hope

It is my father, Walter Dudycz’s birthday today. These past few weeks I have been thinking about a lot about what he taught me about hope. (In Ukrainian the word is надія….also my sister’s name.) I can see how hope shaped my father’s life, and his example of hope has shaped who I am.

When I was a teenager, I thought that I was just an optimist; but the older I got, the more I realized that was not true. Optimism is not the same as hope. Optimists expect good things to happen.

I’m actually not an optimist. What I am is hopeful. I was taught by my father that hope is the belief that when the bad things happen, you can work together to overcome those things.

That idea and all its parts have shaped everything for me:
It implies awareness that bad things that have happened and will happen.
It calls out that hope requires action.
It also implies that hope can be shared. Hope in community is powerful.
And at its heart, hope is a belief. For my father and for me, belief implies the mystery of something greater than us in the Universe. That belief means that hope and prayer are interconnected.

From my father, I also learned:
We need to keep practicing hope, or we can lose it. The more we use it, the stronger it becomes.
The memory of hope can help us to rediscover it.
Hope is a tool. We take it, and we do things with it. We need hope to make changes in the world.
Sometimes those changes take a long time. Hope can come in tiny steps.
Stories and songs about hope help it to grow and spread.
When we share hope, it gets stronger.

I thought about this when I was at one of the rallies in support of Ukraine last weekend. I saw that hope in my father’s eyes, and on the faces of the people around us holding signs and chanting, as well those passersby who honked and waved.

Someone asked me why we go to rallies, what good does it do? I think I have a better answer for them now after thinking about it.

The answer is hope.

Happy Birthday, Tato

(Photo by 8 Eyes Photography)

What if the story of America is one long labor?

This is one of the most beautiful and powerful prayers from Sikh-American civil rights advocate and filmmaker Valarie Kaur.

“And so the mother in me asks, what if? What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb? What if our America is not dead, but a country that is waiting to be born? What if the story of America is one long labor? What if all of our grandfathers and grandmothers are standing behind us now—those who survived occupation and genocide, slavery and Jim Crow, detentions and political assault—what if they are whispering in our ear today, tonight “you are brave”? What if this is our nation’s great transition?

“What does the midwife tell us to do? Breathe. And then? push. Because if we don’t push we will die. If we don’t push, our nation will die. Tonight we will breathe. Tomorrow we will labor in love. Through love. And your revolutionary love is the magic we will show our children.”

  

Appreciation is a Holy Thing

“I believe that appreciation is a holy thing, that when we look for what’s best in the person we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does; so in appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something truly sacred.” ~Fred Rogers, Commencement Address, Middlebury College May, 2001

I’ve been called a dreamer since I was a little girl with her nose in books, staring off into space daydreaming. It’s true. I was, and I am; but I like to think that my optimism is seeing the world through the lens of the wonder-filled, the magical.

It’s harder some weeks than others, when the world seems horribly off-balance. That’s when I try to remember to look around me, to remember those in my circle, who are close and far, whom I love. They remind me that there are seeds of hope in the small, beautiful moments we spend together–so many shades of love–and I truly believe that love is our greatest experience of the Sacred.

If I have had the honor of spending time with you–sharing a meal, a conversation, a drink, a story, a moment, a memory, thank you. Thank you for the gift of your time and for sharing a part of yourself. Happy Thanksgiving. Cheers.