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The Clumsy Dance of Lament and Hope

April 15, 2020

Roy Salmond


Last week, I laid aside my regularly scheduled blog so I could write something more directed at the worldwide health crisis.

Entitled “The Road Less Traveled”, I focused on hope as the difficult but expectant process of facing the unknown, and lament as holding onto the past at expense of the present and future.

A counselor wrote to me and emphasized that lament is an important part of the process of healing from loss, and an essential ingredient of hope.

She was right.

When lament only clings to the past, it gets stuck, but it’s also an important throughway to knowing hope.

In this time of pandemic panic, the temptation to look to formula, security and predictability is understandably strong. We want to hold onto what is familiar. However, as we’re all discovering, there is nothing familiar in how this crisis is unfolding. All the positive online quotes can’t change the trajectory of this virus.

Yet, herein this uncertainty lies hope.

Hope needs uncertainty as light needs darkness to shine.

Rooted in memory, hope draws on the well being we have known as it appraises the difficult situation that lies ahead. It comes to terms with uncertainty, while remaining open to its new possibilities.

Lament evaluates what we’ve lost, hope remembers what we’ve had. Both are bound together in a clumsy dance of the heart, sometimes unaware of each other, but partners nonetheless.

Leaning too much on lament, we forget the sources that enrich our life. Focus only on hope and we can lose touch with each other’s heartaches.

Like all feelings – hope and lament work together, providing a context for the deep awareness and discernment that gives our lives its richest meaning.

The featured image is by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash. We are grateful for Priscilla’s generosity and admire her beautiful collection of images which she shares on Unsplash. 

The Clumsy Dance of Lament and Hope was originally published in Roy Salmond’s excellent newsletter – Between the Notes.  It is published here by request for Cultivating and The Cultivating Project with his gracious permission. 


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