Hope is all we have

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, December 22, 2022

I’m filled with a renewed sense of hope all of the sudden.
Truthfully, I don’t know why I feel such hopefulness.
Last Friday I went to the hospital to have a hernia surgically repaired. They stuffed a hose down my mouth and pumped me with air, then sliced and sewed and got my torn parts back in order.
My throat is still throbbing. My torso feels like someone drove a locomotive into it. I slept much of the dark, cold weekend, recovering.
And yet I just woke from a Monday afternoon nap filled with a sense of wellbeing and hope.
Don’t misunderstand me. There’s plenty of despair in our world.
In our personal worlds we mourn, as we head into the holidays, the loss of our loved ones. My family has had its share of such pain this year.
It doesn’t matter who you are, loss and suffering are a part of life, and both are felt at their keenest this time of year.
We also worry about our politics and the anger, division and nastiness among so many people. We are being torn apart and we know that a nation divided cannot long stand.
Our culture is running amuck. So many of our young people are depressed and disoriented and not even sure what they are or want to be.
So many of our kids are being harmed by the decisions they make now — when the true blessing of a young life is to flourish and grow and become what God intends you to be.
I will soon experience my 60th Christmas on Earth and my childhood was immersed in so much more clarity and simplicity.
We didn’t have an abundance of material things, but we had a lot of laughter and joy and, thanks to the nuns at St. Germaine Catholic School, tremendous clarity.
The good nuns taught us that there is order in our conflicted universe — that there is good and bad, and that they’re at battle everywhere, every day, in every heart.
They taught us we have the free will to choose our direction, good or ill.
We were taught to pray to align ourselves with good and order and to root out dishonesty and nastiness from our beings.
The virtues were pounded into our developing minds and we had better learn to embrace and master them: prudence, temperance, courage and justice.
We were taught that as we strive for good, we must fend off bad behavior: excessive pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth.
These are known as the seven deadly sins — activities I like to save for the weekend!
It is very simple, really. You are either moving toward the light and goodness or away from it. It’s the eternal struggle of humankind.
But sadly, our modern world is moving away from light and goodness in so many ways.
We are straying from the most simple, basic truths of human nature — as we embrace and encourage as truth the kind of wrongheadedness that can only lead to failure and human despair.
It’s easy to get down in these noisy, confusing times.
But still, I am filled with hope that we can right our course.
It’ll take prayer, charity, love — and hope.
That is what I am focusing on as we celebrate the Christmas season. I am praying for those I love, my neighbors, my country, my world.
I don’t know what impact I will make, but hope is all I have. And I’ll give it everything I’ve got.
Merry Christmas to you and your families.

Tom Purcell, creator of the infotainment site ThurbersTail.com, which features pet advice he’s learning from his beloved Labrador, Thurber, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist. Email him at Tom@TomPurcell.com.