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COLUMN: 'Where are we when all hope is lost?'

Columnist Cynthia Breadner reflects on the challenge of finding hope
2021-01-24 - Cynthia Breadner column

A reading from the booklet at Glendalough Hermitage Ireland.

“To be on a pilgrimage is to move into a world where the dividing line between

Past and present,

This world and the next,

What we call sacred, And what we call secular,

….. dissolves.”

Where are we when all hope is lost? This time we are living breeds the challenge of finding hope and where are we when hope is lost. Is there help for the hopeless? Relief often comes when we can begin a pilgrimage of hope and look not ahead or behind. Dissolve the dividing lines between worlds. Simply BE. We are human BEings, not human DOings!

I am reading a book called “The Choice” by Dr. Edith Eva Eger. This woman is a survivor of the holocaust. Now 93 years old, she has entered my awareness through a podcast and now I am reading her book. Her hope and optimism are catching when you listen to her talk and then reality of her experience is the focus when you read her book. To read her book is to work to understand where she found her courage and hope when she was a teen.

This book is over 280 pages and I am on page 73 as I write. I read a chapter or two each day. There have been many times where I have thought to myself. “I can’t read this!” and I put it down. As I put it down, I realize and think to myself how this is not a made up story, work of fiction, written solely to entertain. This is her life, and she deserves, alongside of all the Jews who suffered through that time, and lived or died, for me to read it. My discomfort pales in comparison to her reality. She lived this horror and then wrote about it, the least I can do is read it. I take a rest from it, a rest she is not given, and then pick it up once again when I feel ready to journey with her again. She was 16 years old when she and her family were pulled from their beds, their home, and herded with thousands of others into a horrific journey during the war. Her book has been read by Desmond Tutu who commented how it is a gift and a story that after reading you will be forever changed, and I agree.

As I read, I find myself asking over and over, “how did this happen?” How could anyone living in 1940 – 1945 tolerate this assault on humankind? The only answer I have is many did not know it was happening or realize the extent of the horrors. My soul cries for the many lost during that time. A very dark time in history and a black mark to never be repeated. Mostly I find myself asking, “how did she not lose hope?”

What keeps us hopeful in times of stress? Where does our hope come from? In the ancient Psalms, Ps. 121 asks where does my help come from? In that dark time there was little help, so I continue to return to ask how did she not lose hope? I believe hope comes from living in the moment, on the pilgrimage, not looking too far ahead and keeping our eyes forward. Stepping daily one foot in front of the other and know with each step something will change. Using our breath, as our anchor, because our breath is life-giving and can calm the frayed nerves.

In this time of isolation all we can do is put one foot in front of the other, walk the journey, and put this time of isolation, caused by the virus, to good use hoping for change. Watching and keeping vigil with the light of hope shining out to others. Treasuring this time and remembering to survive today is to be free tomorrow. Taking each day valuing it, treasuring it and finding hope in the very slice of time that is upon us, brings choice. That is the name of her book. The Choice. Do you realize you have choice? Anxiety is fear of the future and guilt is regret of the past. FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. Hope is here in this moment and holds evidence that for this moment I am okay, and in this, there is hope for change.

Dr. Eva says she continued to live each day thinking to herself, “I don’t know what will happen next. In the meantime, I can keep myself alive inside. I survived today, tomorrow I will be free.” Her story is very hard to read, however I believe I owe it to my brothers and sisters who suffered and died during that time to read one person’s story. Live her pain with her, honour her tenacity and her daily fortitude she tapped into and never gave up. I was not as aware of this dark time in history, the holocaust, until I began reading accountings of the time. She lived it and the least I can do is imagine it with her words as my guide. I am hoping my knowledge will create an energetic shift that will prevent it from ever happening again.

Hope brings justice because in the moment hope breeds possibility, and in possibility we, humankind, can speak up, ask questions, and stand for justice. Psalm 121 reads, “I lift my eyes to the hills from where will my help come?” Help and hope comes from partnerships and faith that, in our pilgrimage, each step brings us closer to the sacred perfection we all seek. Closer to meaning and purpose in life. Move into the dissolving of the line.

Cynthia Breadner is a grief specialist and bereavement counsellor, a soul care worker and offers specialized care in Applied Metapsychology with special attention to trauma resolution. She volunteers at hospice, works as a LTC chaplain and is a death doula, assisting with end-of-life care for client and family. She is the mother part of the #DanCynAdventures duo and practices fitness, health and wellness. She is available remotely by safe and secure video connections, if you have any questions contact her today!

Cynthia Breadner

About the Author: Cynthia Breadner

Writer Cynthia Breadner is a grief specialist and bereavement counsellor, a soul care worker providing one-on-one support at
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