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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Corrie

Hope, Faith and the Wishing Tree

Updated: Dec 1, 2021

Special Guest Blogger, member of our congregation and author on grief and loss, Andrea Corrie, shares her latest blog post.

Superstition has it that hammering a coin into a felled or fallen ancient tree and making a wish, can rid you of illness and bring you fortune. The image at the top of this blog post, photographed on a recent walk, is from one such tree, which lies on the ground near Tarr Steps in Somerset.

As I took the photo, God’s name stood out in sharp relief which led me to wonder whether the person who hammered in that particular coin did so with hope and faith in the future.

At this time of year, as the days shorten and our energies become focused on getting through the winter season, we may wonder how we can harness the light that faith and hope bring to our lives. We can perhaps remind ourselves of the words from John’s Gospel, when Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12). Powerful words, indeed!

I recently heard a radio interview in which the question “Do you think hope and faith are the same thing?” was posed to conservationist Jane Goodall. Her reply was interesting. She described faith as an implicit belief that ‘everything will be all right in the end’ whereas of hope, she says, “Hope needs action. Particularly in these dark times, there are many obstacles to be traversed before we reach that glimmer of light at the end.

Our personal resilience and our ability to move forward in difficult times is inspired by faith; and it is underpinned by optimism which in turn is engendered by hope, though it is not always easy to feel hopeful.

My own view is that hope is both a belief and a choice. I don’t see it as a static premise, rather that we are constantly realigning ourselves with our levels of hope. We can feel hope-less, or hope-ful to varying degrees.

Hope is directed at tomorrow, and it comes to fruition in the true fulfilment of that which we wish for; perhaps another way of describing fulfilled hope could be in answered prayers.

We hope for the future, but we have faith for all times: yesterday, today and tomorrow; an important difference.

Faith represents our spiritual beliefs; we believe with confidence and certainty, and we trust as well as hope.

Ultimately, we also know that the glue that binds faith and hope together is love. I’m not talking here of romantic love, but of the highest form of love, described in a term that was coined by the Greeks: which is agape love, pronounced ‘aga-pay’. This is a transcendental, unconditional love, exemplified by placing the other person above yourself. It is certainly representative of our love for Christ and his love for us.

Faith, hope and love (as a synonym for charity) are the three great theological virtues. As Father Raniero Cantalamessa writes: “They are like three sisters. Two of them are grown and the other is a small child. They go forward together hand in hand with the child, hope, in the middle. Looking at them it would seem that the bigger ones are pulling the child, but it is the other way around; it is the little girl who is pulling the two bigger ones. It is hope that pulls faith and love. Without hope, everything would stop.

If we are faithful believers and followers of Christ, we do not need to hammer a coin into a tree to know that with the Lord accompanying us on our journey, hope is always with us, even through the darkest of times.

Andrea Corrie October 2021

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