Hope is an ephemeral quality, and not one that we can see or touch. But hope is the reason we live, love, move forward, and make changes to ourselves and the world. And this may be something that we need to bring back into focus.

Without hope, would we give up? Our sister-in-law finished a university degree in Environmental Sciences, presumably because she had a desire to help the world’s environment. Improve air, soil, or water quality for all living beings. Yet upon graduation, she had been so overwhelmed with learning the details of the problems we face – pollution, erosion, degradation, extinction – that she had almost lost hope. We’re doomed, was the fear.

There is a zen buddhist story that a seed must have courage and trust in order to open and begin to grow. It must trust that it will find soil and water and sun, all the things needed to sustain and nurture it while it grows and fulfills its life purpose. Seeds do this every spring, and we think little of it. Seeds and plants and trees have hope for the future every day; otherwise, why would they keep growing and flowering and producing offspring seed?

So next time we get overwhelmed by the immensity of the changes we need to make as a society and as a planet, let’s try to find a tree or a plant or a flower to remind us of hope and trust. They know how to wait for the right circumstances, then they begin their journey and make incremental changes every day until they are flowering and reseeding for the future.