Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Today I am making a hope kit, a collection of objects associated with my hope. It’s the first hope kit I have ever made, which is rather surprising, given that people were making hope kits before I started working at the Hope Foundation, and I have been working here for 13.5 years. Hope kits are like first-aid kits, or picnic baskets. You put stuff into them and then later you get the stuff out. You open your hope kit when you are hungry for hope, or when your hope needs to be repaired. Like I said, I’ve never made a hope kit.

But tonight I will be asking a group to make hope kits, and they might not understand how to make one, and they might think it’s a stupid idea. So I am making a hope kit to show them. As I gather stuff together I am thinking about past, present and future. I am thinking about people, places and things. I am avoiding anything I hate, like decorating special containers, which is one of the things hope kit experts suggest is meaningful to people when they make hope kits. It’s not that I think you shouldn’t decorate a container and call it your hope kit. It’s just that I hate decorating containers. So I have chosen to use a bag I was given at a dinner a few years ago. It’s so hard to know what to do with all those extra bags people give you. Now I’ve found a good use for one. I’d tell you what’s on the bag, but to tell you the truth, I once asked somebody to tell me, and they told me, but I can’t remember. It’s something Hopey, I know. The dinner where I got the bag was a hope dinner.

Here’s what’s in my bag—my hope kit.

A small pine cone. Just last week I sent a group of care-givers out on a walk to look for hope. One of the walkers picked up this cone and handed it to me, along with $15 to pay for a book called It All Begins with hope. I would have been pleased even if it wasn’t so easy to see the hope in a pine cone. I was out of town and I would have had to carry home all the books that didn’t sell that day. A pine cone isn’t nearly as heavy as a book.

Key Elements of Hope-Focussed Counselling. the first and only book I ever wrote. Some day I might write another. But if I don’t, it won’t be so bad, knowing I wrote one.

Finding Hope, Ways To See Life In A Brighter Light. the book I most often sell. It’s just a little book of pictures and short essays about hope. I saw it in draft form and to be honest, I thought it was a bit fluffy. But after it was published, so compact, so real, I suddenly realized that it was a little book I could give to anybody, knowing that they could read any page and start a conversation with me about hope.

This Little Light of Mine. That’s a book with a story of mine published in it.

A little wooden flute Lawrence bought me in Jasper. Lawrence rarely buys gifts, and he was thinking of me.

A shiny oriental flute David bought me in the Philippines. He said it sounded so beautiful when the man played it in the store that he knew I had to have it. Every time I try to play it, I think of how beautiful it must have sounded.

A laughing cup mark gave me. I can just imagine him in the store saying, I have to get this for my mom. Every time I turn it on it makes me laugh. Where there’s laughter, there’s hope.

A picture of Ruth that Ruth gave me. I was never gorgeous, but I do have a gorgeous daughter, and she’s even smart and generous as well.

A harmonica I bought for $4.95. I bought it at a gift shop in Nashville. Tennessee is a hotbed for two of my passions, music and storytelling.

Hopey, my first-ever hope-opotamus. Gary gave him to me as a gift of thanks, and I later gave him to my mom. He stayed with her in the hospital and she told me stories of the adventures they shared. When she died I got Hopey back, and I have the stories to go with him.

This is the seven-minute version of a hope kit, things I could pick up without wondering why. There are a million other things that could go in. I’d have a story for each of them. But you don’t have to put stories in a carrying bag. You carry them with you always, and I like stories, which helps to explain how I’ve worked at the Hope Foundation for 13.5 years and never made a hope kit—until today. .

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