the color of hope

Yesterday, I began thinking about hope—what it looks like—what makes it happen—what prevents it from being.  I am very familiar with anxiety, despair and hopelessness, as well as many additional states of human consciousness residing on the left side of the ‘miserable to ecstatically joyful’ spectrum. I know what these three feel and look like (to me).

Anxiety, that memory file of unrest and dis-ease, comes in neon variations of brilliant orange, disorienting magenta, brazen fuchsia, magnetic blue, electric purple—all colors except for green—the color of gardens and the earthily serene. Despair, a cousin by marriage to Anxiety, comes invited in by Emotional Pain, with its outer coat of sadness and discord. These haunting dragoons appear in coats of mossy earth tones, capable of generating into steely gray without much warning. Hopelessness, and its deeper shadow, Depression, are big wingless, flocking birds. They are hard to separate and harder to overlook. They come in hot and cold grunge fashion with overlapping shadows of midnight blue and lamp black…often with vivifying streams of hot pink or red flashing throughout.

Some people are hard-wired in ways that make them vulnerable to all of this. Others less so. I am one of the former. My glass tends to be half, to three-quarters empty (as the saying goes). And when it is full, I am overwhelmed by the fullness and feel joy—a state about as common as a four-leaf clover. Happy is a far more common state, but I do not know what it means. I hear this word everywhere. What is it and why is it so sought after? I have not found Happy to have much consequence. It seems ephemeral, like smiling and laughing. It is not fulfillment and it is not joy. I blow my birthday candles out, open my cards and feel happy. I hold my adorable kitties in my arms, hear them purr and feel happy. Far from being lifted or resolved, the concerns I carry are only set aside for a moment or a while.

My goal is joy in exploding colors of the rainbow—the same experience as being in love—an experience of complete, indescribably harmonious fulfillment. I get that when I dance at my InterPlay sessions and am transported beyond my self…into my Self…together with God. My cup is not half full or all full, it runneth over. How this happens is pretty simple: I drive to the place where the InterPlayers gather, participate fully and receive not only happiness, but Joy. It is a type of prayer and worship. Each time I go, I make a down payment on more of it. I haven’t lost my concerns or troubles, I’ve turned my mourning into dancing for a while and the color of anxiety/despair/hopelessness lightens. It does not disappear.

I make this happen because I take steps to be where it can happen. But sometimes joy seems to materialize out of thin air. One minute you are heavy laden with perhaps weeks, months, even years of travail that never seems to lessen or resolve, and then in a flash you are filled with joy and feeling ten pounds lighter…light enough to think you may fly if you so allow…light enough to welcome hope. That is an altogether different sort of happening, one seemingly begotten, not made.

Since 2000 when the film, The Perfect Storm entered our theaters and homes, we have adopted the film’s title to refer to tragic situations composed of parts and pieces of unpredictable events in relation to the fallibility of human decision-making. We often find a modicum of comfort in saying: “It was a perfect storm just waiting to happen.”

Last Sunday, at the little church at the edge of the city, where I worship, I had occasion to experience what I can only describe as the opposite of the perfect storm. I call it The Perfect Rainbow. Days and weeks beforehand, parts and pieces of unpredictability were coming together on many fronts, along with loving, careful,  human decision-making and the result for my partner and me was a deeply fulfilling experience that turned the water in our glasses into bubbling  champagne. More than three years of struggle and emotional pain were met by joy so deep, words could not be found. Had I the room to dance it and witnesses to join in, I would have surely outdone myself. Even now as I write this, my body wants to dance. It was a perfect rainbow after the thundering, crashing storms we’d experienced since returning to the church after an absence of thirty years. The events that led to this perfect rainbow were beyond counting and beyond orchestrating by any one person. Surely the Grace of God’s Holy Spirit was creatively present all the while.

I can still see the rainbow. It’s full from one end of the sky to the other and it brings me hope. The color of hope (for me) is the rainbow, full and audaciously beautiful in even a leaden sky. Storms will surely continue to come and go, but I saw a rainbow on Sunday and I’ve tucked it inside where all my memories reside…the good, bad and the ugly. I’ve given this one a special place. If I should forget its whereabouts, I trust a reminder will come one way or another, even in a perfect storm.

12 Responses to “the color of hope”

  1. 1 Anne
    May 17, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    What wonderful images and your ability to so beautifully articulate them is truly a gift.

  2. 2 judy
    May 17, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    The perfect rainbow….
    You are something.

  3. 3 Laurie
    May 17, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Your Perfect Rainbow makes me smile! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  4. 4 ordinary (mostly)
    May 17, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    This sounds wonderful!

  5. 5 Meg
    May 17, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Oh yes. Beautifully said. In spite of road blocks, detours and dead ends what a sublime joy to faithfully, often fearfully and finally complete the path that leads to the Most Perfect Rainbow and the “pot of gold”.

  6. 6 Judith
    May 18, 2011 at 8:55 am

    beautifully written/expressed..I was moved to tears..sending you Blessings and love

  7. May 20, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Anne sent me your blog. The gracious connection we share is InterPlay. I am the cofounder and am deeply moved by the same things you are. Though I have worked overly hard to have a fullish cup, I relate to the struggle, the storm, and the hope of rainbows. I had a powerful dream about this before 9/11: Rainbow spheres nearly pummeling the earth as we all ran toward the city center. It had to do with the kind of hope that comes from outside of us. I experienced this on a body level after dancing on behalf of women in a slum in India. Who knew? The very thing that terrified me, was where I found illimitable hope.

    • 8 Naomi
      May 20, 2011 at 5:24 pm

      So nice of you to visit and share your experience. What I love about dancing is the kinesthetic intimacy of body/soul meeting each other…together…solo…whatever. It has saved my life in a sense. And to any who may read this comment, please note that Cynthia Winton-Henry is a co-founder of InterPlay!!! Thank you.

  8. May 30, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Nicely expressed Naomi. Opening such a lot of even yet unimagined possibilities.

    Is your intention or awareness around Hope to have it as a destination, or to use it as an incremental step to something higher, such as ‘knowing’?

  9. 10 Carol
    June 6, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    Naomi, Thank you for using colors to describe your varied feeling states. It helped me to get a deeper glimpse of what that must be like for you. And thank you for your beautiful words in describing what being involved in InterPlay does for you. My experience with InterPlay over and over is a sense of coming home – to myself, to God, to the essence of who I am called to be. It provides a place to express whatever I’m feeling and to be held and witnessed by fellow players. It reminds me that I am embodied and that is a good thing. Blessings on the journey.

    • 11 Naomi
      June 7, 2011 at 6:44 am

      Thanks for taking the time to read the entire posting and sharing your own experience. My use of color imagery is second nature to me as a visual artist…sometimes easier than words…just as InterPlay dance is easier than words, and many times a mercy not to have to use words.

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