Catching Hope

I almost always experience a depression after a book release, and I almost always forget that this is likely going to happen. Apparently, Kidnapped in Haiti was no exception. A few weeks ago, I had “a week.” There were various factors apart from the book, too, which are beyond the scope of this post.

I have a prayer journal, and I often write about a page in it every morning. Here is the summary of my journal for that week.

Friday: “I felt super depressed yesterday.”

Saturday: nothing

Sunday: nothing

Monday: I’m having trouble snapping out of a deep gloom.

Tuesday: nothing

Wednesday: I’m really super depressed. That’s all.

Thursday: Still depressed and angry.

So when I heard majestic strains of music on my morning walk, I felt a jolt of surprise.

Where is that music coming from? I asked myself. Surely beautiful piano music could not come from the grungy intersection through which I was walking. I pulled my phone out of Anina’s stroller to make sure it hadn’t spontaneously burst into song.

My phone was mute.

I crossed Jackson Street and paused on the sidewalk, listening some more. Traffic roared behind me, competing with the gentle music. But it was still there. And considering I could see an open window on the second floor of the apartment in front of me, I concluded it must be coming from that apartment.

Melody of hope

Perhaps if you’ve never stood on that particular corner of the world, you won’t understand why tears sprang into my eyes. But let me just say that if you are reading this blog post you probably aren’t living in accommodations like the ones I was facing.  Although I had never been in that particular one, I had been in one close by. Out-dated rooms where the cockroaches defy the work of the monthly pest control man. Dark, rancid hallways. Rattling heating systems and electric systems unable to support too many window AC units. Such are the images in my mind when I think of visiting our friend Chris (who I still miss to the point of tears) who lived in one of these apartments.

I walked on, amazed and revitalized by the music and the perfect coolness and clarity of a spotless September morning. I turned left on Lexington Avenue, traffic whirring past, Anina still in her PJs munching on her graham crackers and watching the trucks and squirrels and other pedestrians from her comfy nest in the stroller.

As I continued east, I happened to glance up at the top of a nondescript two or three story building off 2nd Street, hemmed in by the brick walls of other buildings.

Oasis of Hope

There, on the top of the roof, was a charming oasis. I saw wooden ladders, a lovely pergola, and small trees. What? How I had missed that? And who put that up there in the middle of the bricks? I desperately wished to go up and see this beautiful and unlikely place to refresh oneself. (Perhaps someday I will get up the courage to attempt a visit.)

I walked on, completely inspired by these two examples of beauty around me. Now I was on high alert, thoroughly enjoying myself. What could be next?

I was stopped cold a moment later by a yellow mum. Now, mums are just splendid no matter where you find them., especially in early September when you haven’t gazed into the beauty of one for an entire year. But what really grabbed my attention was the situation.

Flowering Hope

The brilliant yellow mum sat on a black metal stand between two matching chairs, completely unattended. It was not in front of a shop with glass windows to provide it security. It was just against a brick wall. Higher in the wall, a window with a sign “Eyelash Extensions” peered down on us, but I could see no security camera. Even if a camera were hidden in a crevice somewhere, what good would that do? A person could snatch the mum and be off, and who cares if there is a picture of them on the security camera. It wouldn’t be worth $15 to search for them. For that matter, they could take the small table and chairs.

Then who, I asked myself, is so interested in making the world a more beautiful place that they will risk the loss of a lovely plant on a street where it could so easily be destroyed or stolen? Who cared enough to share this beauty with people who would never thank them, in a world where beauty is often destroyed?

Yet I knew too that part of the beauty of the mum was its fragility, it’s steal-ability. Perhaps much of the true beauty in the world happens when someone offers a part of themselves knowing it to be a risk.

The gloom of the week was broken by a strange camaraderie with and admiration for three people I had never met. They shared value among the bricks of downtown Elkhart, and I was infected with their contagious hope. So, in a way, I can say I did meet them.

I met them in the music, in the place of refreshment, and in the gift of a fragile mum.  

New In the shop

  • The book shop is accepting credit cards again, hurray!
  • Book 4 of the Brady Street Boys Adventure Series, Tricked on the Tracks, should arrive next month.
  • Don’t forget to choose free shipping on orders over $50.

7 thoughts on “Catching Hope”

  1. That beautiful music coming from “somewhere” reminded me of a happening several years ago. I live in a University town with a really marvelous Music Department. As a result there are a good many rentals in the nearby neighborhood and walking one day I happened by a small house which most likely housed someone connected with the Music Department. They were playing classical music on a piano and it was lovely, lyrical music. I stood there for probably 10 minutes just listening and it was almost as if I could see the notes floating out of the window and drifting off like soap bubbles in the breeze.

    It was a delightful experience which could so easily have been missed by me had I been driving along in a car on my way to doing something “important”.

  2. Thank you for sharing those moments of beauty…. along with the honest ugliness. In a world where things seem to get darker and darker, we some easily dismiss the abundant beauty around us! And of course it’s so much the lovelier when found in such contrast to the dark and yuck.

  3. I didn’t know that authors suffered from post partum depression, but it makes perfect sense since authors give birth to stories!
    I loved your blog on “Catching Hope”! Beauty and inspiration can be found if we JUST LOOK for them! I am certainly NOT JUDGING you or anyone else – I also suffer from depression – most likely due to several major medical conditions which tend to overwhelm me.

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