In the midst of difficult and trying times I try to find hope and joy very ordinary situations; [recently] I had an ordinary event, which brought a smile to my face and a spirit of joyful expectation for the coming months. What was this event? My new pair of running shoes arrived at the rectory.

If you are not a runner, you may not be able to relate to what I am about to share. I have been running since I was a freshman in high school … and a new pair of running shoes has always been something that lifted my spirits. Why? I think part of the joy comes from the anticipation of where the running shoes will take me. They will take me down well-worn running routes that I know like the back of my hands, routes that typically I run in the very early hours of the morning when all is quiet and still.

This running time has always helped me stay centered on what is most important and allowed me to let go of the stress and worry which can creep into my life. The shoes have also led me to explore new and exciting places around Vermont (the Lake Morey loop), around the country (the beaches of the North Carolina and the mountains of Colorado) and around the world (the village roads of rural Ireland and Scotland).

A new pair of running shoes reminds me of what can be rather than looking only at the challenges or struggles of today. Now, if you are not a runner, you may experience this same joyful expectation when a new book arrives to be read, a new recipe is going to be tried in the kitchen or a new piece of equipment allows you to build something in the workshop. I guess what I am trying to say is that all of us need to have things in our lives that bring us this sense of hope and joyful expectation, especially when our present situation is anything but ideal.

Now I would be remiss if I did not bring God into this reflection. I would say that ultimately what we need in our life in order to face the future with joy and hope is not a what, but a Who. God needs to be the true source of hope when facing a difficult present and uncertain future. It is God who guides us on the running path, in the kitchen or the workshop. And just as He has sustained in the past in our challenging and difficult times, just as He sustains us in our present uncertainties, He will guide us into a future that we should not fear but anticipate with hopeful joy.

As the prophet Jeremiah reminded the Israelites while they struggled in exile: “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer 29:11-13). So, even if you are not a runner, this week, let us seek the Lord and His hopeful plans for us with all of our hearts.

Stay well and God bless.

—Published in the May 15-21, 2020, issue of The Inland See.