Never lose hope, my dear heart, miracles dwell in the invisible.~ Rumi
Hope is a universal concept, a renewable energy source and it never runs out. We can tap into it whenever it is needed. From poets to presidents to box office hits, hope has captured thousands of generations and helped each of us endure the heartache and suffering that is life.
Scott Russell Sanders, an American novelist and essayist explains that the Latin word for hope, sperare, comes from the Indo-European root spei, which means to expand. “To be hopeful is not only to feel expansive, but to count on an ever-flowing bounty while to feel despair is to feel constrained, to fear that the springs are drying up.”
From the view of the soul, facing an overwhelming array of troubles is an old story. Throughout history in times of great uncertainty, we have told stories and myths which seem to provide us a meaningful path through life and give us what we all need the most–the touch of the eternal. These myths continue to remain relevant because we continue to endure the same challenges of our ancestors. And myths continue to captivate and help by reinforcing the concept of connecting to the old soul within each of us.
The story of Pandora’s Box is an origin myth made up to explain how all the evils came about in the world. It was written by Hesiod in an epic poem called “Theogeny” about 800 BC.
Zeus gives a wedding present, a box, to Pandora, the first mortal woman on earth. Zeus does not tell Pandora what is in the box but gives her strict instructions not to open it. Pandora waits a year, at which point her curiosity gets the best of her and she opens the box. The lid flies open and all the evils and miseries of the world bolt out: Hate, Violence, Sorrow, Ignorance, Jealousy, and Sadness. Pandora manages to shut the box, leaving only Hope, who is hiding under the lid. This old myth teaches us that all the ills and ailments, all the scandals and betrayals and the rampant dishonesty must be faced before the hidden hope of life can be found again. It’s as if things must become hopeless before a deeper sense of hope can return from the depths of the human heart. This level of hope includes a darker knowledge of the world and a sharper insight into one’s own soul.
Hope is found, not by clinging to old dreams or by denying despair, but by surviving it. When life becomes darkest, the eye of the soul begins to see. “Hope springs eternal” is when people begin to see beyond the parade of facts and the litanies of ideologies and learn to trust the deeper values of individual life, as well as, the underlying truths of human culture. Great crises are not solved by simply conserving assets but by finding inner resources that were hidden from sight.
The sense of connecting to the underlying spirit of life and the hidden resiliency of the individual human soul is the source of genuine hope. This level of hope is based in creative imagination that appears when people honestly stay in the tension of opposing ideas long enough to lean into their despair. This intensity and deeper meaning of hope depends upon the profound power of the human soul to imagine and therefore to create, renew and innovate. When all hope is lost and all seems headed for disaster, it is genuine meaning that is missing and needs to be found again.
In the end, Pandora hears a faint voice in the box. When she lifts the lid, she finds hope, releasing it into the world. Everywhere evil goes hope goes too. And all that is touched by evil – so too is touched by hope. So hope continues to make all the difference in the world.