'We choose hope, because of who we know God to be'
Miriam’s story | Finding inspiration during lockdown
“It’s been a rough season. Back in March, I was faced with the decision to continue in my job but stop seeing my family, or to leave my work and go into lockdown with them. In the end it was an easy decision: one of my parents has terminal cancer and I’d been wondering how to make more time for them, and here, rather abruptly, was my answer!”
“Then in July, when Stage 4 Lockdown started in Melbourne and it became apparent that this pandemic wasn’t going anywhere soon, I decided to give up my apartment and make the full move home.
“We hadn’t lived properly together since I was 14, so it was a big decision. I have my own bedroom, in what used to be my parents’ study, which is good, but it means they’re both working in the living area. It gets a bit tight at times, and we’re all working out how to be adults with each other.
“Generally, everyone in Melbourne is weary. When Stage 4 started, the whole city seemed to feel it. I feel down a lot of the time. It’s not a depressive thing, it’s just a hard state of affairs. It’s a shocking time, but also just repetitive, tiring, and uninspiring.
“Yet I’m also aware that it’s been a productive time for me. I’m a poet-theologian, and have continued my Masters and my writing. I’ve had some recent commissions, as well as transcription work and research projects. And I’ve been creating new poems. That’s one of my litmus tests for how I’m going – if I’m weary but am still feeling inspired to create, to make beauty, then I’ll be okay. Some of my writing has been about COVID-19, but a lot has just been more general reflections on what it means to stay hopeful.
“One of my recent poems is called Hope Demanded. Basically, it says that we choose hope, because of who we know God to be.
Truth that is true // only when we feel it // Is no truth at all, and // Hope that is only // Hopeful when // We see the future as // Sure, is as pointless // As it is // Poor. // The demand of hope, // In a Christian, // Are the firm but gentle // Hands on our cheeks, // Turning our panicked eyes // From our deathly surrounds, // To rest on the divine // Face.
“But the decision to be hopeful, of course, doesn’t necessarily translate into celebration, or even feeling good about getting out of bed in the mornings. It’s a decision to look at the truth of who we know God to be, and what he’s done for us. It’s a decision to look up. And I need that, because in between mobile phones and despair, it’s easy to spend a lot of time looking down.
“Psalm 16:6 says, ‘The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, surely I have a delightful inheritance.’ It’s a challenge, right now, more than an experience. I feel stuck, but God is saying to me, look around you. Where is the good in the place where I have you?
“Even thinking about my parents, I was worried last year that I wasn’t getting enough quality time with them … and now here I am, having all this extra time with them! It reminds me that God can take a really bad thing, and he can redeem it, even turning it into something good. And that’s where we find our hope, even when we feel weary, or grumpy, or overwhelmed. God is still here.”