You wrote to me from the ICU waiting room at 1:37 A.M. this morning. In your email you told me about your daughter, fighting to stay alive. You told me that you were a mess. You said you needed a smile.
Then you finished by asking a simple question. You asked what I believe Hope is.
And you spelled it with a capital H.
Normally I wouldn’t answer a question like this because, I think we can all agree, I ain’t a very smart guy. In fact, I’m a putz. But you seemed desperate. So if my mediocre, halfcocked words can give you a few moments of calm, then, well…
Words you shall have.
So Hope. Capital H. I submit that, for this column, we pretend Hope is not merely a four-letter word or a positive feeling. Let’s make Hope tangible; a three-dimensional object. That way we can hold it. Touch it.
Let’s say that Hope (capital H) is actually a one-pound shaker of arts-and-craft glitter.
Have you ever fooled around with glitter? It’s messy stuff. Glitter is a clean freak’s nightmare. Any second-grade teacher will tell you that glitter is a communicable disease.
Yesterday, for instance, my wife visited my cousin’s kid’s playroom where unsupervised children were playing with illegal quantities of glitter. Their sparkly hands touched my wife, who in turn touched me. And that was all it took.
Currently, there are stubborn pieces of glitter in my teeth, on my keyboard, and in my eye sockets. There will be glitter in my casket.
Because you can’t end glitter. You can’t fight it. You can’t eradicate it. Try washing your hands; glitter will laugh at you.
Hope is like glitter. It doesn’t take much. And it really hangs on.
Although I also believe Hope is fuel, like gasoline. To explain what I mean let’s use a hypothetical anecdote.
First, for this illustration, let’s pretend you have a 1977 two-door hatchback Chevy Chevette, identical to the one my uncle owned.
Now let us say this ugly, 1.4 liter, 57 horsepower, rusted piece of persecution is currently parked in the Baptist parking lot during service.
Let’s say you’re a 14-year-old boy who decides to “borrow” your uncle’s Chevette without permission while your uncle is inside serving as a church-greeter/usher.
Oh, and one more thing. Your uncle—who has no idea you’re confiscating his four cylinder for a joyride with your pal Andrew—forgets to mention that his gas gauge is broken.
You with me so far? Great.
Now let us say that you and Andrew illegally hotwire your uncle’s Chevy and drive it 19 miles south until you find yourself in a desolate rural landscape during an age before cellphone communication.
Then your car stalls.
So now your ‘77 Chevette, with its 1,843 pounds of lifeless curb weight, begins to cough, sputter and finally runs out of precious gasoline.
Congratulations. You are now in the middle of a vacant two-lane, with longhorn cattle all around you, and Chevy’s worst engineering concept under your haunches.
Fortunately, your uncle has a CB radio under his dashboard because he is a longtime fan of “Smokey and the Bandit.” So you use the radio and are somehow put in touch with the highway patrol.
In mere minutes a patrolman arrives to find two underaged idiots in the frontseat of a ‘77 Chevette that is deader than ragtime.
And this officer, let’s call him Officer “Foul Mood,” escorts you both to the church, which, keep in mind, is still in service.
Instead of the officer waiting for church to end, the uniformed man marches the 14-year-old lawbreakers down the center aisle during the sermon to establish contact with your uncle who, as I said, is an usher. Although not for long.
Now let us think about the above scenario for a moment. What am I saying here? For starters, I am saying that you should never buy a ‘77 Chevette.
But I am also saying that Hope is the combustible fuel that keeps your engine running. Without it, your vehicle dies.
I am not being figurative. Hope is vital. Hope is calories for the soul. Hope might be the most important element of your humanhood. And the truly great thing about Hope is that it’s transferable.
Remember all that glitter business I was talking about? You can pass along Hope as easily as glitter. Which is why I am writing to you now.
So to the anonymous woman who emailed me this morning, who needs Hope for her daughter:
I am not a clever man, as I have just demonstrated. I have no inside information, I have no idea what you’re going through. I wish I could tell you the future, but I can’t.
Even so, I know one thing. I know something beautiful is coming your way. I know that it’s just over the horizon. I don’t know what this something is. I don’t know when it will arrive. But I know it’s real. I know because I’ve touched it. And so have you.
And although life itself seems bleak right now, this is not the end. You have no reason to believe the words this lone putz says, but with all my heart I Hope you know I love you.
Susan Parker - April 21, 2021 7:11 am
Best explanation of Hope with a capital H there ever was! Your words are Encouraging, with a capital E. Thank you, Sean!
Linda - April 21, 2021 8:10 am
Now that you so poignantly described Hope, can you explain Grace? (Either with or without a capital G)
Lesa - April 21, 2021 8:21 am
Thank you for giving me Hope with your words! Also, glitter!
Cynthia Harmon - April 21, 2021 9:03 am
I’m a parent on the other side of one of those childhood disasters. When my middle daughter was 19, she had a motorcycle accident. Her left leg was broken in multiple places, twisted sideways. She had multiple surgeries, mostly because no one knew then that she has a hyper-clotting disorder. The end result was an Above the the knee amputation. Then that flesh eating bacteria got into her wound and it had to be revised. The whole thing was a nightmare. You can imagine how we felt. But I didn’t. I had faith that God was going to work this out in amazing ways. Now 12 years later, she has been a Paralympian in snowboarding (Sochi 2014), finished college, hikes hundreds of miles in the western mountains, does her own landscaping and home repair, works for a major corporation as an engineer. The leg still bothers her, but she never gives up.
Dave - April 21, 2021 4:32 pm
Patri - April 21, 2021 8:31 pm
Thank you Cynthia for your courageous sharing of another perspective on the other side of glitter!!
oldlibrariansshelf - April 24, 2021 5:54 am
Bless you and your daughter.
Meredith Smith - April 21, 2021 9:37 am
That was Beautiful. Capital B.
Bob Brenner - April 21, 2021 11:36 am
I Hope she will find comfort in your words. I know I do.❤️
Cindy Neill - April 21, 2021 11:41 am
Praying for Hope.
Jan - April 21, 2021 11:45 am
Hope is Essential to get through this life and so are you, Sean. With a capital E!
Thank you, Sean!
Lisa Bowman - April 21, 2021 12:03 pm
Great piece! Great peace. 🤗
Melissa Armstrong - April 21, 2021 12:05 pm
Thank you for answering that mom. Your answer was perfect. I know on Whom my Hope is built.
Roy - April 21, 2021 12:11 pm
Nice job on describing Hope. Prayers for the lady and her daughter. Thank you for these wonderful words.
Tammi May - April 21, 2021 12:31 pm
Bill, my husband of 32 years, died two weeks ago today. He fought a courageous battle with cancer for 3 years. We had…HOPE…to the very end. The HOPE dimmed over those 3 years, but we never lost it. I sit here today, broken, like a puzzle with missing pieces. My HOPE now is very faint, almost just a glimmer ..but it is there. I feel it, almost like a actual touch. In time it will grow brighter and stronger..I know this, I don’t know how, but I do. I know one day, I will still be broken, with missing pieces but I will be able to replace the pieces with ones that might not fit actually like the old ones did but with HOPE and maybe a little glitter and duct tape.. I will survive and thrive.
Te - April 21, 2021 12:36 pm
We can all use a little Hopeful glitter about right now, when everything looks so hopeless (I’m not capitalizing THAT word!). I have a lot of Hope. I hope the world wakes up before we’re destroyed by mysterious forces we can’t control or stop. I hope that I find enough money to build my greenhouse (I’ve collected 22 windows, so I have a good chance of doing that). I hope that my little corner of the world remains anonymous and obscure enough that those powerful forces never find us. Right now, a lot of people need HOpe, and if I thought it would help, I’d throw glitter on everybody I meet!
Phil (Brown Marlin) - April 21, 2021 12:40 pm
We (your readers) Hope and Pray the lady’s daughter is well.
Oh, yeah, and you should spell that other four-letter word you used with a capital L, Sean, because you are thankfully Loaded with it.
Dan Wise - April 21, 2021 12:44 pm
My first car was a 56 Chevy, 283 engine and a chrome breather. When I left home for College at Bama, I sold it to one of my close friends after he assured me he would take good care of it. I later found out that he and another of my fiends were were pulled over for speeding. In the backseat was a healthy size Bovine that they had absconded with for purposes unknown. Ya can’t make This Stuff up!
Roxanne - April 21, 2021 1:05 pm
Your analogies are P-E-R-F-E-C-T.
Jim - April 21, 2021 1:24 pm
Stop knocking yourself – you are a very good read every morning for us.
granny1940 - April 21, 2021 1:32 pm
Shaun, you are the most intelligent, thoughtful, caring, loving putz I know. You feed my soul . I saw you in Auburn, KY and have been following you ever since then. Thank you. Melanie Henderson
Kate - April 21, 2021 1:51 pm
Often it is very hard to find HOPE, but anger always seems to come easily. But I agree, hope is what keeps our engines running, although sometime we sputter along, hoping one day to be gliding along.
Melanie Herr - April 21, 2021 1:54 pm
May glitter reflect the light in all of our lives when our current world wants to forbid glitter, “Culture cancel” our reliance on glitter and spreading of Hope! I think I totally agree with you – in this Pandemic, Culture Canceling, Social Unrest, isolating and dividing mandates – WE ALL NEED GLITTER AND HOPE! Stems from our Faithfulness! Believing in what we can not truly see nor understand in its totality, but waiting upon the all knowing, omnipresent and almighty Yahweh! I am spreading glitter everyday
Sidney E - April 21, 2021 2:09 pm
Oh, Sean. Thank You for these words of Hope! Our weary world needs every ounce of Hope we can muster.
Brenda Posey - April 21, 2021 2:33 pm
Hope gets us through each day. The glitter analogy is perfect (& true!). Thank you.
AlaRedClayGirl - April 21, 2021 2:44 pm
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jer 29:11 I wish the lady with the sick daughter, Tammi with the loss of her husband, and all of us with whatever problems we may have, to have this kind of Hope. Thank you, Sean, for this reminder!
Christina - April 21, 2021 3:29 pm
I’m gonna carry around some of that H glitter today. Thanks Captain Hope!
Freddie’s Daughter Chasity Davis Ritter - April 21, 2021 3:50 pm
Sometimes I save your blogs and don’t read them first thing. Sometimes they even build up for a few days. But I’m glad I read this one pretty early for me. I was able to pray for this lady and her daughter today. I haven’t read the other comments yet but I bet lots of people will be praying for them too to help bring them some HOPE!! We all need that so much in our lives because without a little hope we don’t have much to believe in or to fight for. I like your analogies to give it a tangible idea of what hope is. Of how it works. I know I talk about my Dad a lot. It keeps his memory and love alive for me by doing so. Thanks to Jesus I have the HOPE and even the promise that I will see him again one day. But I still fre him with me and see signs that he is. I saw my first dragonfly of the year two days ago… hi Dad. And in regards to glitter…. green has been my signature color for my Dad since he was diagnosed as having liver cancer. It’s the color of the ribbon for it. And i chose green as my morning color instead of black. Two Christmas ago I wore a sparkly glitter green dress to church for Dads memory and even now I see green sparkles still on the pew cushions or on the floor near our seat and I smile. I found my Hope there and I really believe like the glitter it has a chance to spread everywhere 💚
Cheryl Buchanan - April 21, 2021 3:54 pm
Perfection! Oh, I love GLITTER, too!
Larry Wall - April 21, 2021 3:54 pm
Sean, you really hit a home run with your answer to the Mom at the hospital. Hope and Faith go hand in hand, I believe. Faith is the glue that sticks the glitter of Hope to us. I don’t think that you can separate them or have one without the other. But I think that Faith comes first and that it begets Hope. And as the Holy Bible says, all of the Faith that is necessary is the size of a mustard seed to have all of the Hope that we need to go through the trials that life throws in our path. And I pray that Hope will have a reason to grow each day for the lady who sent you the email.
Linda Moon - April 21, 2021 5:41 pm
I would be a mess if my daughter was fighting to stay alive. Glitter is contagious…it spreads from person to person as Anonymous’ capital H word does. But did you expose my anonymity about me and my Aunt Polly’s “borrowed” car I took for a joyride long ago? If so, that’s Okay, because I lived to tell about it. Hope lived then, and it always will for me and for Aunt Polly as she rests in a Blessed Hope. I’m Hopeful for Anonymous’ daughter and sending Love and Life so Mother and Daughter can tell their story many years from now. And, you’re not a putz, Columnist.
johnallenberry - April 21, 2021 5:47 pm
To quote Ashley Brilliant: “There’s a word for hope in every language. At least I hope there is.” Thanks for the reminder to keep on hoping
MAM - April 21, 2021 6:19 pm
I Hope you quit calling yourself a putz. You are about as far from being what Merriam Webster defines as a stupid, foolish ineffectual person; jerk, as anyone I can think of. Your writing is brilliant! Who else would ever compare Hope to glitter, but it totally works in your hands!
Maureen Brown - April 21, 2021 8:18 pm
I’m not sure what the 14-year-old lawbreakers have to do with hope. I doubt they even thought about getting caught or having enough gas. Please enlighten me. LOVE YOUR COLUMN!!
Marcia MacLean - April 21, 2021 8:46 pm
I hope every time I see glitter I’ll remember your brilliant explanation of Hope. And I like Larry Walls statement of faith being the glue. Prayers for that mom’s daughter in ICU and that the mom has this Hope as an anchor for her soul.
Rebecca Souders - April 21, 2021 9:28 pm
I can’t think of anyone better than you to give us a definition of Hope, Sean Dietrich. Thanks.
Linda Holmes - April 21, 2021 10:56 pm
There are many verses in the Bible concerning Hope and defining Hope. You could spend a day and night, or several if you are a slow reader, just reading about hope. Hope is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit along with eight others. My favorite is Hebrews 11 1. Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Lynda Gayle Knight - April 22, 2021 6:41 pm
Haven’t found a better analogy anywhere for capital H (hope)! Even a child could understand your idea of what capital H is and why we all have and need it at some point. How do I know? “Because the Bible tells me so” Hebrews 11:1 and I’ve experienced it before and Hope to again soon❣️
Thressa Wood - April 22, 2021 7:26 pm
I enjoyed your analogies of Hope. You probably made it clearer this way than the poem which says that “Hope is a thing with feathers…”
And, you’re not a putz!!