The Substance of Hope

Hina, a colleague and a friend, had taken some photos that were interesting, and one of them gave me the idea for this post.


The Shadow of Substance

Yesterday was a day of peaking frustrations and great encouragement. Deadlock with the boys forming the troublesome core of the class; a seeming inability on my part to arouse them to aspire to better things and break out of destructive patterns.

Then later in the day… a quietly excited Dr. Jayakumar (David to the rest of us), the principal of Bridges Academy, sharing what many children wrote about the impact of the school in their lives; unmistakable evidence of many unseen things growing and developing in the children who have dropped almost out of the sky into our care. Here are some comments from different kids (I haven’t changed the grammar) –

“Before I come to Bridges Academy there was no school to accept me because I was refugee, and also 14 years old. But by this school I am able to study, to go to college, even I hope to achieve my goal. Now I feel strong to achieve my goal, even that much that I am say whether I run, walk, or crawl, I will set my goals and achieve them.”

“Before I didn’t have self confidence. Right now I can talk in front of many people. Every day learn new things.”

“When I wasn’t in this school, I think I was not serious about my dreams… I got to know that I’m not serious, but I have to be serious. It was like it woke me up from my dreams. After that I’m really serious about my life and dreams.”

“The positivity of teachers and thought for the days really influenced me. I was not positive always, but now I’m mostly all the time positive.”

“The teachers make me feel I can do something better for my life…Now I can tell everyone that I’m studying at the level I want to study, and it’s changed my life.”

“I’ve learned to be punctual, following the rules of a school and how to be a gentleman…”

There are many more, and writing them all would make a very much longer post than it already is.

After David shared this, I made a comment about needing to take up the issue with the boys who seemed to have avoided meeting me at the end of the day. The comment cut a jagged tangent to the hope in what David was sharing, and later I realised that I had been given a choice to follow a particular line of thought, and I had made a bad one. In the face of such obvious impact, I had chosen to continue to dwell on the problems, rather than notice and dwell on the hope.


Rose of Hope – seeing the pattern form out of the chaos. Image rendered in Chaoscope and worked on in Paint.NET.

The reality of hope has been in my thoughts again and again. Right there in the midst of difficulty after difficulty, surrounded by weeds, grows the precious crop, the cultivated grain. That boy in the picture above is just a silhouette. JUST a silhouette?! He has substance enough to cast a shadow and block out the light! How can he be JUST a silhouette??

That’s the point. I think I sometimes make the very real hope of things to come into something less than it is, just as we sometimes think that a silhouette is somehow less than it is, that is, something substantial enough to block out the light and cast a shadow. David’s stories were the shadow of things not yet seen, but real enough to block out the light. When the shadow can give us such a thrill, imagine what seeing the reality will be like? How can you dream if you don’t have hope? And how can you have hope if it’s not real?

Today, the residue of that choice of dwelling on the problems fairly well ruined my morning with the class and unless I quickly regain the hope that is from God, and see a future in the troublesome boys, I may lose them due to my own inability to retain hope.

Well, I’ve got to look for the shadow, and wait patiently until I see it, until the patterns start to form, not just in the cooperative students, but also in the others, whose presence with us is surely not a coincidence.


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