The morning of the day we honor the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, I am reflecting on hope.

Yesterday, I learned that my former husband, a violently abusive alcoholic, had died. The end was harsh and unforgiving, like his life. A brilliant and talented man, his demons overcame him; violence and drink destroyed him. I survived, even thrived. To this day, every morning I am grateful for that, for it so easily could have gone the other way. Many years ago, I realized that my well-being was intricately tied to my capacity to forgive and move on. So while I am relieved that he can never harm anyone again, I am sad at his passing, for he never found peace. He had lost all hope.

At the same time, it is a day when we pause to honor the dream of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement at a time when great anger and grief are pouring out over continued violence and oppression. In the wake of the shooting death of Jamar Clark by Minneapolis Police and the resulting outrage, a friend of mine who strives to heal the trauma of sexual violence perpetrated against African American girls and women said to me, “I have lost all hope”. To hear this from her; an elder, pastor, healer in the community and a shining light in the world, was deeply disturbing.

In the midst of all this, and so much more, how do we find hope? How do we even know what it looks like anymore?

As the cold January sun filtered into my home, and I sat in stillness, it occurred to me that hope is what we must seek out, what we must call out for, what we must never abandon if we are to be well.

It is in a child’s laugh, the unconditional love of a dog, and in the beauty of a cold winter morning viewed from the safety of a warm home. It is in the moments of profound peace found in quiet reflection, in holding forgiveness as a sacred duty to one’s own healing. Hope is in our friends and colleagues working tirelessly to change the dialogue from one of fear and rage to one of possibilities. It’s in a home-cooked meal shared with others, and in the wisdom of our elders who have seen so much yet never give up.

Take a few moments now to consider where you feel hopeful. Honor it. Our healing as individuals and as communities depends upon it.

Suzanne Koepplinger
Suzanne Koepplinger
Catalyst Initiative Director
The Minneapolis Foundation

Suzanne Koepplinger, M.A., is the Catalyst Initiative Director at The Minneapolis Foundation. Before joining this foundation, Suzanne served as Executive Director of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center. Learn More

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