Pandora, Mother and Hope

To be hopeful means to be uncertain about the future, to be tender toward possibilities, to be dedicated to change all the way down to the bottom of your heart.

Rebecca Solnit


Mary Sue Tipps Mathys

My mother died thirty years ago on the night of the winter solstice. Many of those years I’ve stayed awake  ’round midnight because that’s when the veil between us feels thinnest.

Starting with the year she married Dad in 1952, Mom made an annual Christmas card that she mailed to 200+ friends and family. In 1971, she focused on Pandora’s Box and the hope that was left inside when all of the troubles escaped. In the card that year, Mom noted that I was to graduate from high school in May, and the only way she had the courage to let me leave home* (followed by my brother two years later) was that she had hope that “we would find our niche in the world” and that “some of the world’s problems concerning war and inequality and injustice will soon be solved.” The latter is far from happening, but I find it fascinating that my “niche in the world” has included working with others for spiritual and social transformation of “war and inequality and injustice.”

On one had, we live in dark times: midnight times. After this fall’s presidential election, many of my friends are still in grief, some crying most times we visit. It looks to many of us as if the troubles released from Pandora’s Box have won the day. And others around the country feel hopeful—underscoring the deep divides that cut through our nation today.

 Silk Screened Pandora's Box by Sue

Silk Screened Pandora’s Box by Sue

I believe that Hope is a powerful force. Not a flighty Pollyanna kind of hope, longing for utopia, but a force in the darkness, facing the unknown, knowing that anything is possible in the next moment, and the next, always letting your heart take the lead.

I follow the One who reassures us that the light shines in the darkness, a light that no darkness can overcome—even when I can’t see the light. When walking in the dark, I must remember it is critical that I take each step with integrity and respect so I can add to the light and not the darkness.

I have found my niche in the world. Mom worried that I would be too timid, as that was strongly at play in my growing up years. But my passion for justice and equality danced with the flame of my spirit, and I’ve been on a revolutionary path all my life, no matter how timid it looked at any one point. The world calls for each one of us to step even more fully into leadership, into the work that is uniquely ours to do.

Mom was a force to behold. Opinionated. Headstrong. Steady. She was also open-hearted, creative and had sight far beyond her years. I couldn’t have asked for a better mother, a better role model for the life that is mine to live. And yet my work steps away from her path, off onto my own. Shortly before her death, she blessed me as I shared the ways I was stepping away from the path she traveled. That was what she was hoping for all along.

Are there hopes and dreams and visions that your mother or father, grandmother or grandfather or trusted elder friend have held for you to step into? What are you waiting for?

*I smile at these words she wrote because I know that Mom was also thrilled to have my brother and me move out of the house…