Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Light of Hope

“I can't run no more 
with that lawless crowd 
while the killers in high places 
say their prayers out loud. 
But they've summoned, they've summoned up 
a thundercloud 
and they're going to hear from me. 

Ring the bells that still can ring 
Forget your perfect offering 
There is a crack in everything 
That's how the light gets in.” 
Leonard Cohen

The Light of Hope

During my life here on earth there have been few artists who have spoken to me as eloquently as Leonard Cohen.  His words wove themselves into a language only my soul could understand, often denying me the ability to adequately articulate their unique meaning for to do so would have been equal to translating words only recognized by the heart.  In a prescient move that seemed to underscore the title of his only just released collection of songs, You Want it Darker, Leonard Cohen shook off the bonds of this world the day after the US election.  (The wisest woman of my acquaintance beat him by one day.)  And darker seems to be what we are destined to experience.  For an artist whose observations had illuminated the vicissitudes of our culture for decades, perhaps what we currently prepare to face was simply more than God felt he should have to endure.  Leonard Cohen’s work was done.  Ours is just beginning.

With each new henchman nominated to the cabinet of our new president-elect it becomes clearer that the values I hold dear will be under ridicule and peril over the next four years.  A known darling of white supremacists is now the chief presidential strategist.  We have a prospective Secretary of Energy who has voiced his desire to abolish that department entirely.  A possible Secretary of Education who is famously no fan of public education and a choice for Attorney General whose racist views denied him a judgeship in the past.  Up for Secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency is a man who scoffs at the idea of climate change and our nominee for Secretary of State is the president of Exxon Mobile, a man impoverished in foreign policy experience but rich in oil negotiations, particularly with Russia.  It is now been proven by the CIA, FBI and the State Department that Russia influenced our election process to favor our new president-elect.  This fact is made even more frightening in the face of such nonchalant response from the same people who handled Mrs. Clinton’s innocuous emails as though each was still burning with hellfire itself.  It does not take much awareness to know that if the situation were reversed and Russia had successfully aided Mrs. Clinton the blowback from Congress and their talk radio pals would have been strong enough to sandblast the faces off Mt. Rushmore.  At what point does hypocrisy become evil?

By most anyone’s estimation this had been a dreadful year.  We have lost far too many bright lights to count.  Harper Lee, Prince, David Bowie, Zaha Hadid, Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, Sir George Martin,  John Glenn -  just a small mention of everyone who left us.   New words entered our vocabulary:  Zika, Brexit, Aleppo.  We gaped as dignity, intelligence and grace were kicked to the curb in our embarrassing presidential election.  We mourned with those in Nice and Paris.  And in the midst of it all we wrestled with a frustrating sense of impotence in the face of each new horror, each new pain.  For what can one person do, really, in the face of a chaos that threatens to obliterate every goodness it can find.  

This weekend we celebrate the birth of Christ, a birth that was illuminated by a star of great light.  A star of hope.  In an interview this week Michelle Obama said, “Hope is necessary.  What else do you have if you don’t have hope?  What do you give your children if you can’t give them hope?"  Indeed, Christmas has always been about hope.  Hope of a new world, a new birth - hope of forgiveness, love, and comfort.  It is that hope that puts my feet on the ground each morning with a continued determination to do what I can, however small and insignificant it may seem, to foster beauty and kindness in the world around me, to share a bit of the hope announced by that long ago star .  

In my book of essays, From the House of Edward, there is a piece  I wrote one cold night during a Christmas season several years ago when I couldn’t sleep.  Sitting beside a twinkling Christmas tree as the last embers of a fire dwindled down in the grate I looked out my frost-rimmed window and felt as though my little fir-scented home was as removed from the ugliness of the world as those storybook cottages that sit, forever serene, inside a snow globe.  This year I feel that way more than ever.  It is from home that I take my strength to face the world around me.  Inside these walls it is cheery, loving and warm.  There is respect, kindness and laughter.  A favorite light is always on in the window, a light that glows in the darkness when I pull in the drive in the evening and, like the great star before it, it gives me hope, for I know inside those doors I’ll find much needed nourishment for my soul. 

 May we all look to that star of hope this Christmas season.  May it give us what we need to fight the good fight in the coming year; the fight for goodness, truth, love, and compassion.  And may all my wonderful readers have a Merry, Merry Christmas as we march into a new year with the determination such hope provides. 
 Bless you all.


  1. Perfect post Pamela. You have given me hope.

  2. I endorse everything you say in that last paragraph Pamela. Have a peaceful and hopeful Christmas.

  3. Well said and blessings to you and yours...

  4. Amen....and Merry Christmas to you and all who dwell within your 4 walls!

  5. I agree. With every appointment, it just gets worse. And my own heavily partisan state legislature has shown a relentless power grab while backing down on repealing hateful legislation, so that no longer can it be claimed that our southern state is moderately progressive and reasonable (not to mention all the other horrors they've enacted while in control the last four years). I have never been so worried about my country and the world and what kind of world my grandchildren will inherit. I feel somewhat better when I realize there are so many who feel the same as I do, and who value kindness and compassion, as well as are ready to stand up for justice, equality, our planet, and a better life for everyone. As Michelle Obama said, you've got to have hope. So, yes, I'm trying to remember to be grateful for my cozy cabin and the lights on the tree and all my loved ones, and to continue to bring what light I can into the world in my own tiny way. Thanks for your wise words and have a very Merry Christmas, Pamela.

  6. My home is also my solace in this hard time. I was lucky, here in the Smoky Mountains, while homes of others burned just a few miles away. Home of friends, cherished mementos, a loom that belonged to an ancestor, used daily, until the fires. The thousands of digital photos of a photographer friend, all gone. While many, if not most of my neighbors think differently about the election than I do (voting blue I did, in a sea of red), I think they too are now worried about his choices for the most important posts in our nation. I cherish my wild places, I need my Medicare, civil rights gains must not be lost. Hope, bring on that crack that lets the light in. With winter solstice, the light is returning, the star on the tree, our hope will rise up.

  7. Bless you, Pamela, for speaking the words that I feel in my heart.

  8. Hope, indeed. At the moment, it's all many of us have. Thank you for putting a voice to it. Wishing you, the Songwriter, Edward, and Apple a joyful, peaceful, hopeful Christmas.

  9. Thank you for your words. I need to be reminded that I am not alone--that there are many of us who aspire to "better" than what was elected and what is happening. It is sustaining, knowing how many of us care.

    PS I will so miss Barack and Michelle Obama.

  10. Beautifully said, Pamela. The events of this year beggar the imagination. Fear whistles around every corner, but hope is what we must cling to. Thank you for your words. And Christmas blessings to you and yours.

  11. Well said, Pamela! Please continue to be a voice of sanity, poetry and hope. And come join us for the Women's March on Washington DC on January 21!! Let's make our voices heard!

  12. Beautiful. I have a lump in my throat that won't go away!!!
    Hope and pray.

  13. Thank you for these words and for all the pleasure you give us throughout the year. You are making a difference to all of us. x

  14. Pamela, Pls understand that the South, midwest, and most of our northern states voted for Trump. You are insulting those of us who live there.
    If you moved to California, you would be happier. That is the one state that gave Hillary her popular vote win. I don't read your column to hear your political opinions. If that trend is to continue, please let me know and I will unsubscribe.

    1. I appreciate your honesty. This blog has always been a reflection of my view of the world and I find it strange that you would be caught off guard by it now. I have never shied away from writing about issues I care deeply about; if you read back through the years this is something you will readily see. It’s true I don’t make a habit of writing about politics but the election of this man to lead the free world represents a danger that, for me, transcends politics. There are dark echoes in his words, echoes of dark history. We forget at our peril. I have no intention of continually focusing on him here at the blog but we have turned a corner in this country that I cannot ignore so you may find things here from time to time that ruffle your feathers. As to your suggestion I move to California, it’s a lovely state but I fear I would miss the cold weather.

  15. We shall all do our best in the face of such abounding horror. But yes, hope and quiet persistence will triumph. And above all, LOVE.

    Bright Blessings

  16. Thank you your words mean so much on a day when 4 people have been arrested for planning to bomb the centre of Melbourne....including a church on Christmas Day. As I sit here in Brisbane next to our Christmas tree in the midst of summer, with my son and daughter in law downstairs ready to partake in our family festivities and my second son about to make a 1,000 km journey by car to join our family for Christmas Day I can't help but feel that this is what is important. We have to go on and live our lives to the full aware that we need even more to show compassion, kindness and love to those we come in contact with. We in Australia watch with horror at what is happening in your part of the world and in the UK. We have our own similar problems waiting in the wings preaching hate and spreading lies. My father is 97, he fought for Britain in WWII to wipe out the Nazi regime that preached similar sentiments and carried out appalling atrocities, I feel so much for him as he watches the world sink back into those depths of 1930's and 40's. You always make me feel that I am not alone in this fight. Thank you so much for being a sane voice amongst all this ugliness.

  17. Pamela, you are a beacon of light. Love and appreciate you.

  18. How very beautiful and true for me also to be safe and secure inside my cottage while the cold winds of winter blow outside my walls. My special cat Shirlee keeps me company like Edward does you

    Merry Christmas


  19. So eloquently written and so on point. Thank you for putting it into words.

  20. It is your words and other's that feel as we do, that give me hope. My thought is that extremes usually result in the pendulum swinging the other way. I must hope and pray that this will be the case as we embark on a 4 year term of a man that is not what I believe to be a presidential worthy man.
    Thank you and best of Christmas greetings to you and your sweet family, including your furry family members.

  21. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)

    Merry Christmas to you and all those you love, Pamela. Thank you so much for all you share here. It means so much.

    Regarding Allyson K Designs' comments, I have a suspicion that a good number of people in the north, south and midwest did not vote for Mr. Trump. Of course, what do I know? I live in California.

    P.S. If you visit true northern California, you’ll find cold to your heart’s content.

  22. as always. wonderful.
    uplifting. quiet joy. sensible and intelligent.
    no agenda but peace and kindness and compassion.
    and writing that makes one's soul sing.
    you are a treasure dear Pamela.
    and tonight is the night of my second annual traditional reading of
    Edward Speaks at Midnight!
    love to you and the song writer and Edward and Apple. XOXO♥

  23. Well said Pamela... Merry Christmas to you and yours

  24. It is hard for us in the rest of the world to watch, dumbfounded, fearful and powerless, what is happening in America at the moment. Thank you, Pamela, for reminding us over here in our part of the forest that America has not lost its dignity and humanity.
    With best wishes - and hope - for 2017,
    Christine in Scotland


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