Hope Springs Eternal
"The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home" —Alexander Pope
Photo © DL Dunton Photography
Winters in Maine are long. Each spring I look forward to preparing my road bike and cycling around our lake region. After so many months indoors it’s a treat to take in the sights, sounds and smells of spring as I quietly pedal past other folks who have ventured out to do the same. But this year the annual ritual of my spring cycling “tour” has been different from years past. Now, as I come across others who are outdoors, I see an eagerness to connect—albeit from six or more feet away. I cycle past individuals walking or working in their yards and we call out to one another, “Hi, how are you?” As pandemic safeguards remain in place and people rightly abide by physical distancing recommendations, most often it is an ambiguous phrase that is given in reply: “I’m doing okay.” I’m doing okay. This phrase can mean I’m doing just fine, or I’m not doing so great. And perhaps that’s the best way to describe how so many of us are feeling, depending upon the day. For many people, this unprecedented worldwide pandemic has induced a sense of a tenuous hanging-on. There’s so much that is still not known both about the virus itself and about what life may look like after. But I believe that it’s human nature to look for reasons to be hopeful, and it’s important that we do that now. As I returned home from one of these recent long bike rides, I passed a yard sprouting the soft green shoots so typical of spring grass. Neatly planted rows of deep lavender crocuses caught my eye, and I thought of what Alexander Pope wrote about hope in his 1732 An Essay on Man:
"Hope springs eternal in the human breast: Man never is, but always to be blest: The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home, Rests and expatiates in a life to come." Hope can give us courage and help us carry on when the going gets tough. Hope can provide the impetus for and fuel efforts in problem-solving. Hope can help us to expect the best of ourselves and others. We need to hang onto hope and one another now. Hope springs eternal, and for that I am glad.