May 9, 2020

Dear Hope Nation,

It’s week eight of Hope’s temporary closing. “Temporary,” of course, doesn’t mean short in time, it just means for a limited period. Hope will reopen soon, of course, at least as soon as it’s safe to do so. For now, though, to commemorate eight weeks of closure, I’d like to offer eight observations about Hope Before, During and After.

  1. Like a church, Hope is the people that make us up, not the building we meet in. Yes, we’ve got a beautiful facility we can’t wait to enter again, but it’s the common experience of valuing recovery and each other that gives Hope hope.
  2. Painting is one of the most accessible means of expressing joy, sorrow, loss and rage. We’ve got some tremendously talented artists—and that’s great!—but what really knocks my socks off is the little pieces of us that cover our walls. The risk of painting is far outweighed by the accidental beauty that invariably comes out of our hands.
  3. You, Hope Nation, are an amazing community of people, willing to do almost anything to support each other in difficult times. From food exchanges between those who have plenty to those in need, to fundraising support for Hope, to offers to make the masks we need to reopen, you’ve demonstrated the strength to get up and do what needs to be done.
  4. Sicker than Most is a foundation-piece of Hope Nation. This monthly variety show, created by Duke Mulberry and Andy Ryan, draws the community together to demonstrate support for creativity of all kinds—singing, standup, poetry, painting, playing instruments, juggling and any other damn talent folks would like to share. Saturday the 16th is the next virtual show, and I really hope to see each of you there.
  5. Broken windows suck, but Hope Nation’s response is sorrowful resolve to fix them and stop future damage instead of rounding up a posse to enforce vigilante justice. When we can be better than the circumstances we encounter, we’re demonstrating recovery (and tremendous self-control). (Btw, friend of Hope Annie Day has a Facebook Birthday Fundraiser for windows.)
  6. Gratitude never disappoints. When I apply gratitude (or the search for gratitude) to any situation I improve the circumstances. Even more important, I improve myself and my ability to find solutions. The Swiss Army Knife of emotions, gratitude is also a perpetual motion machine—the more you live in gratitude, the more there is to be grateful for.
  7. Technology has obvious limitations in sharing and communicating recovery, just as oatmeal has limitations as a primary food. Still, if necessary one can survive a long time on just oatmeal, and technology can provide the bare minimum of recovery. While I’d prefer no pandemic at all, 2020 is a WAY better time to be isolated than 2005 would have been. However we define our Higher Powers, let us thank God for small mercies.
  8. The Hope staff is amazing! Really and for true. I don’t want to embarrass them by sharing specific stories, but I do want you to know each member of Hope Nation has guardian angels who are supporting you with tears, laughter, prayer and care. I’ve never been part of a better team than Hope’s: Bob Mortimer, Dawn Desjardins, Jill Kyzer, Karla Gallagher, Dave Cote and Ashley Papatola. Please, please, please keep them in your hearts—empathy for life’s brokenness can be exhausting.

Just a reminder—tomorrow is Mother’s Day. Please remember your own if she’s part of your life or contact the women who have mothered you, whether from childhood or only in adulthood. I’m adopted—never met my birth mother—so I know shared genetic material isn’t what makes a woman your mother. It’s mothering that creates one. Moms of all kinds matter, just like

You matter. I matter. We matter.

Keith