“I didn’t think this would ever happen to me,” murmured Despair weakly, face buried in hands. “My whole life I’ve labored for the sake of Love. Now I’m sick and tired, wearied in my soul by the continual battering of life. I used to believe that all things work for good but it seems nowadays that everywhere I look I see only darkness. Maybe trusting in Goodness and Light was a mistake.”
Hope listened gently his plea; it was genuine. She had witnessed the difficulties that had plagued her counterpart for the past years. He had persevered quietly, if not smiling, and she’d seen the darkness building inside him, slowly engulfing his usual shine; like smoke suffocating a flame.
“Trusting Light, seeing Light everywhere you look is never a mistake. This is one of your greatest qualities.” she warmly affirmed. Hope possessed enough wisdom to see her role in the moment as a friend to lean on, to not weary him with further with quick-fix solutions or recuperative prodding. “It’s okay for you to be experiencing darkness right now. I wouldn’t hurry from the pain. What a shame it would be to miss out on what the darkness is growing in you.”
“What possible growth could be coming from the pain!?” Despair spat angrily. He immediately felt shame for the thoughtless retort, Hope had never been anything but kind to him. “Sorry,” he back-stepped, “It’s just, I don’t understand why suffering should be viewed as some key to personal growth. I’ve always hated that sentiment.” Hope sat pensive for a moment, looking almost blankly through the window across the room. Snow still rested on the sill from a month before showing little sign of melting, no inkling of spring. The sky outside felt heavy, the clouds hung oppressively low.
“I don’t think suffering is a ‘key to growth’,” she said, shifting her gaze upon him. She found him looking desperately into her eyes, silently begging for some slice of truth that could satiate the dull pain, the hunger for joy he’d been living with day to day. “I mean, pain isn’t necessary as much as it is inevitable. Being resolutely present is the ‘key to growth’, regardless of the season of life you are in.” With these words, and without either of them noticing, a solitary ray of sunlight penetrated the glass on the window. A bead of water began to roll down the pane, cutting the frost as it went.
She continued, “There are different angles from which you can examine a thing and from each the object will appear slightly, if not entirely, different. Even the pain you are experiencing can be of use if you will be present in it, not flee from it prematurely. I, Hope, am a friend to you in darkness, not forcing you to see light, but here to offer comfort in your time of need. People have been taught that darkness and pain should be avoided at any cost, or that they are ‘less-than’ somehow. This isn’t true. These times of trouble are creating perseverance and character within you. You mustn’t be surprised that you’re experiencing trials, they come to everyone, and don’t numb your pain; this winter you are living through is birthing something wonderful in you.” As she spoke she placed her hand on his and the tenderness of her touch brought him a feeling of rest, like sitting down after walking too many miles.
“How could that possibly be true?” Despair asked incredulously. But in his question and in his heart was a glimmer of peace that came with knowing Hope would never betray him. They both realized simultaneously that the room was now full of sunlight, warming the floor, their skin and the air.
“Spring is preceded by winter. Darkness is the revealer of Light. Pain underscores pleasure. Death makes life worth living.” With that, Despair and Hope sat silently together, appreciative of each other’s company.