Slices of Hope

Embracing life and all the journey holds

Hope Begins in the Dark

I miss all my flowers and plants.  All the spaces created and re-created at our “last” house.

Over time, each space was intentional.

Several years of planning and working with the soil.
Designing and re-designing flower beds,
Including precious plant gifts from preschool students,
Planting favorite combinations,
Making sure color traveled from one section to the next.
As certain blooms petered, other buds peaked.

Now, many trees and mature growth reside around our fixer upper home.  Critters, shade, trunks for hammocks, and branches for climbing fill days with delight.  Most of the shrubs are woody and long past their prime.  Several trees must go.  Soon.  Returning flowers — bulbs, perennials, flowering shrubs – apparently old or tired.  Early watching reveals no growth.  None.

Oh yes, frequent walks around the house could birth ideas and jumpstart dreams.

Pull this.
Cut that back.
Create a pathway.
Pile the layers of rocks.
Remove a tree here.
Plant a tree there.
Attend to the grass or lack thereof .

Yet, a lingering mystery.  Would our first spring here present possible growth beneath the beneath the soil, leaves, sticks, pine needles?

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
(A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young)

Winter seemingly fades and spring days offer the warmth of sunlight mixed periods of rain.  Around the neighborhood, glimpses of growth peek through the ground.  Perennials wake up.  Bulbs prepare for their burst of color, creating a sense of expectancy.  Flowering shrubs thicken with buds and hints of color.

Yet, at our home, no flowers seeking the light of day, bringing pause and wonder.

Until, this appears…


And this…


And this!


(Oh, they all need attention – mostly relocated to spaces they can thrive.  But that will happen in time.  For now, three simple gifts.)

The tiniest of buds keep opening on the trees – teeny, tiny leaves awakening to a crisp spring start.  Across the street daffodils and tulips look our way and brighten each day.

Hope renews… just a bit.  Gratitude spills for the glimpses of color and new growth.

My enthusiasm for these bitty pieces of life is unmatched by my children who lovingly respond to my excitement with “Here she goes again!” 

It is true.  A bursting energy motivates the completion of projects so attention can be given to the outside spaces.  It will be a multi-year process.  Oh my, there is so much to be done!  But dirt-under-my-fingernails days… those are the best spring days.  Hands in soil, attending to plants.  Yes, the excitement brews.

Hope begins in the dark,
the stubborn hope that if you just show up
and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.
You wait and watch and work; you don’t give up.
(Anne Lamott)

Life sometimes feels like a mystery, like waiting in the darkness.  Hope lingers in the shadows of dashed dreams, unexpected disappointments, seemingly impossible scenarios.  Witness of growth and opportunities around us brings a yearning for our own.  Uncertainly remains, yet, there is a longing for even the tiniest of miracles.

One step at a time, we wait and watch and work.  We don’t give up.  And then, we catch glimpses of grace and courage and kindness and beauty in the people we meet and encounters we embrace.  Our attention peaks and a bolder hope renews within us.  Little, tiny miracles gird our way as we accept the present moment that may hold darkness, uncertainty, or challenge.

You do not need to know precisely what is happening,
Or exactly where it is all going.
What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment,
and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.
(Thomas Merton)

What places and spaces of your life beg for stubborn hope?  Please don’t give up.  Let’s wait and watch and work together as we recognize our present moments and embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.  I’d love to hear about the little miracles in your life.

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Enjoy your day and all it holds for you!


  1. Klaudia Smucker

    April 12, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Oh Heidi,

    I finally got a chance to read this, and it warmed my heart, coming at just the right time. I too am looking around for signs of hope in the coming to life of flower beds that I do not yet know. Your words, and the words you quoted, blessed me enormously! Thank you!

    • Heidi Hochstetler

      April 14, 2016 at 1:24 pm

      Thank you so much, Klaudia! I hope you find many beautiful signs of life around your new home!

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