“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


hope is a passive word

but we hope anyway.  we say our prayers, we mind our manners, we close our eyes and take deep breaths.  we are familiar with ommmmmmmmmm.  we touch thumbtip to fingertip and sit with the place of no-place, or we cradle one hand in another, or we lay trying-for-calm on our backs, palms against our bellies, we breath in p-e-a-c-e and we breath out, out, out, out.  we hope.  we hope.  we cry when dreams are disappeared, and we search for sleep, that sly, sly sleep lurking in all the wide-awake places, the sunshine falling across the backseat of a jeep a lullaby crooning us into never-never land, if only for a few moments, if only for half an hour.  if only, if only, we tell ourselves, and we say more prayers - to the blue autumn sky over our heads, to the breezes passing by through open windows, to the songs of birds and the chatter of nurses, lilac clad at picnic tables.  we are kind to animals and we sometimes give money to that man on the corner, knowing he will just buy liquor if he can find a ride to a liquor store, but not caring at all, hoping the drink helps him through the night.  hoping.  such a passive word.  we leave our pennies in the penny box at convenience stores and we don't litter and we always, always drop dollar bills in the salvation army buckets.  we tip well.

i remember the woman from walmart's pharmacy when she is wheeled into the emergency room - i am there with my mother, hoping, hoping - i remember her because she was kind and the line that afternoon had been long and she looked me in the eye when we spoke, and i lean my head on my hands and my prayers are no longer words, they are just unformed thoughts, and she is fine, everyone is fine, life is just overwhelming at times, and we are all standing on a corner with a sign in our hands needing something.  we deny it, we say we need nothing, but that's a lie, and i know it, and you know it, it's a lie. 

eventually it is done, as it always is, and the night closes around me as i walk to the jeep, wanting sleep, wanting tacos, wanting lily cat to snuggle with, and i debate heading for work & her or home & bed, and home wins because it is a minute closer, distance always judged by time, time always judged by the movement of stars in the sky, and when i walk in the door the sound of a cello fills the room, the stereo that comes on at midnight to warn me i am up too late already halfway through a favorite cd. 

hope.  such a passive word.

i joke with a hospital security guard when he needs to see my driver's license to let me into the emergency room wards and i let the guy at the taco place keep the change.  it is a new day when i reach home, that music waiting.


  1. hope is not my favorite word. it feels somewhat...helpless. yet i find it slips into my speech with regularity.

    your words and your way with them, debi, quench a thirst i often don't know i have until i read your current post. if you could see me, i nod and sigh while reading. sometimes, i have nothing to say in return but the thank you that goes out into the ethers for your presence and your wisdom.

    xxoo and thanks,

  2. this was so full, of images and words and emotion, and now i am sitting here thinking about hope. it is a passive word, but it doesn't feel so passive when you're doing it.

    and then i am thinking about hope and wish, and the difference, if there is one.

    i can live without wishes, but i don't know if i can live without hope. or rather, i could, but i don't want to.

    "and we are all standing on a corner with a sign in our hands needing something."

    that line made my heart weep.


  3. Graciel - Hope is one of my least favorite words. I always say it makes me think of a hand held out, palm up, needing but unwilling to do anything about that needing. It makes me think of my father's father. And yet. I hope.

    Kelly - I had a line in here about wishin' & hopin', but deleted it after publishing, with great trouble & much cussing at the new blogger editor. You picked up those vibes apparently. I think they are very different animals.

    And the sign thing. Perhaps we should have a sign day - all participants making their sign and posting it that day. Just because.


  4. First to say, this is such a beautiful snapshot, so multi-layred, multi-textured, as your writing always is.
    And, that moment where you talked about being without words or thoughts for "the hope', & just holding the awareness for the person, holding them in the hands of your heart...
    Yes, to me, that is "hope" & that is "prayer".
    Thank you.

  5. i SO have a sign ..you explained it in a way i never could...

    hope your mom is OK..it is quite an ordeal when that happens

  6. How exhausting. I wish for you the peace to get the rest you deserve. Although perhaps wish is a passive term also - but I really mean it.
    I love the concept of everyone with a sign specifying what it is that they need at that time - no pride or guilt complicating the message.

  7. yes that one line - so powerful. this whole piece is powerful. i hope you get some needed rest, peaceful, quiet-in-your-head rest (if you know what i mean by that)

  8. oh my god, beautiful, and so very poignant and powerful. now i am remembering the man on the street corner that my brother and i gave a bag of groceries, and then never saw again; the women holding a prayer service in the room next to my father's during his last hospital stay, and how they laid hands on me and prayed in tongues over me when I drifted in to see what they were doing--one of the most surreal but beautiful moments of my life. hope has never been passive to me: it is something i have to fight to attain and struggle to keep; it is a rare and active state for me. but sometimes it slips in the back door quietly and unexpectedly, a favorite song at the right time, one small incident creating huge ripples in my soul... and that is when i love it best.

  9. Poignant. Touching. Amazing, really. Well done.

  10. i'm back with comment #2, because i want to do a sign day with you. heck, a sign WEEK would be easy!

    "and we are all standing on a corner with a sign in our hands needing something."...needs to be the intro to each participating person's post.

    let's do it soon. i've got lots of signs to be expressed. they will all be smacked with truth.

    what say you?


  11. Graciel - I just emailed you with a yes. Let's get this party started. xoxo

  12. we are all standing on a corner with a sign in our hands needing something.....

    that is brilliant writing and knowledge....you know that right ?

    truly brilliant !

  13. I think I would have to make my sign in point form to make all the words fit.

    This post is full...overbrimming with so much.
    Yes...going to email you....

  14. She arrived on an autumn day - sun shining like it thought it was summer. Snuck on the truck delivering twin goats - the moonlight made her cry. Trust came slow. We had to name her "Hope"...and, she has gifted us with love - pure & wild....and 9kittens -- 3 only for a while. But I will take what I can --- and keep my Hope about. She reminds me that faith is the bridge.

    Your words touched my very soul.


  15. Stunned. Just thinking and thinking... I love the way your beautiful mind works.


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