It saddens me when a man who has spent the better part of his life embodying the light of transcendent hope loses even a modicum of that hope, a loss to which a friend recently confessed because of what’s happening under the Trump administration. (I will continue to refer to this president primarily as Ozzie, or Ozymandias, after Shelley’s poem.) But these are the times in which we live. It saddens me because the loss of that hope is the loss of something greater, something unspeakably precious and necessary in a world that too often seems burdened by darkness. It also saddens me because to the degree my friend’s hope is diminished, my hope, to which I want to cling stubbornly and irrationally, feels more fragile.
There’s no potion, of course, that will revive his flagging hope or mine, no incantation that will push back the encroaching darkness. There is only something in me – and in him, I trust – like the something that must have been in the prophet who wrote of a dimly burning wick that will not be quenched (Isa. 42:3).
Or in another prophet who wrote: “Though the fig tree does not blossom, and no fruit is on the vines; though the produce of the olive fails and the fields yield no food; though the flock is cut off from the fold and there is no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and makes me tread upon the heights” (Hab. 3:17-19).
Under Ozzie’s administration it does feel as if the flock is cut off from the fold, defenseless amid wolves who have grown especially bold and seem to be growing bolder. And like my friend I will struggle to hold onto whatever hope is left in me, knowing, simply knowing, that Ozzie will not have the last word.
And again I will read Isaiah and Habakkuk and the other prophets aloud. I will work on the rhythms and cadences of their words, to move their music from my ear into my heart. And I will rejoice in the Lord. Yes, by God, I will rejoice.