Dear Phoenix:

Did you ever notice how often our prayers and fairy tales end with nearly the same words?

“…, happily ever after,
…, forever and ever,
…, is now, and ever shall be.”

This is no coincidence.  Both prayers and fairy tales are a wager on hope.  In a downside-up universe where the innocent suffer and justice is delayed and the violent bear things away, prayer and fairy tale endings begin with hope.

Let’s be clear about hope.  When most people say “I hope…,” what they really mean is “I wish….,”
I HOPE it isn’t cancer.
I HOPE I get the job.
I HOPE this is really love.

Each of these hopes are actually wishes for a specific ending.  The problem with this understanding is that if we don’t get our wish, then hope is a fool’s errand contingent on a very specific ending.  Real hope has nothing to do with the fragile outcomes of repeated wishes.

Real hope is the belief that no matter what happens, the process itself will be replete with meaning. Having hope means that, even if it is cancer, then all of the coping, caring, depending, loving and letting go to come, will be abundantly rich.  We will see and experience profound truths we otherwise would never have seen.  Hope is the belief that, no matter what happens, all will be well.


Hope is the belief that Love will have the final say.


Teachers bet on hope.  We believe that all of our efforts will make a difference, even if we will never, ever see those results.  Even if all current evidence points in exactly the opposite direction, we have at it, day in and day out, because you never know.  Love takes time and it will have the final say.

And, truth be told, being hopeful changes us.  Hope activates providence.  Hope deepens our humanity.  Hope defies the strictures of time and space.

I give thanks because you and all of our kids, past, present and yet to come, have taught me this invaluable truth – that prayers and fairy tales end the same way.

“…, happily ever after,
…, forever and ever,
…, is now and ever shall be.”

Happy Thanksgiving,

John Horan

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