Such a simple word, and everything about it is complex.

The most famous of the Greek myths is the story of Pandora’s Box, or more accurately, Pandora’s Jar. (Jar was mistranslated to box). Hesiod is credited with telling the story of Pandora, who was given by Zeus to Epimetheus, the brother of Prometheus. It seems that Zeus was still miffed that Prometheus had given humanity the gift of fire. Zeus had reasoned that a vessel that Epimetheus had would be compromised by the curiosity of Pandora.

The Earth was pretty much a heavenly place. Now that they had fire, people were quite comfortable. All the evils of the world were safely locked away in the jar watched over by Epimetheus. Pandora changed all that. She removed the lid and in an instant everything escaped the jar, except hope. Pandora replaced the lid, keeping hope contained within.

my take on Rossetti’s Pandora

When you look at this story it doesn’t make sense that hope was living in the jar with a ton of evil. In fact, there was a ton of debate in Ancient Greece about this myth.

Hope is also translated as expectation. There was the belief that containing expectation meant that humanity still had access to it because is wasn’t flying around the world. It does not explain why hope was in the jar with evil.

Another suggestion was that it wasn’t expectation, it was deceptive expectation! Now that makes some sense. It wasn’t hope trapped in the jar, it was hopelessness. If all the evils were loose in the world, at least hopelessness wasn’t with them.

The Greeks also represented hope as a young woman named Elpis. Often the hope she represented was related to some kind of suffering. If we suffer, then at least we have hope. Thank you Elpis!

Where do we find hope? It isn’t lost, it isn’t locked away in a jar (that was hopelessness). So where is it?

Many find it within their family and friends. The practical expression of hope is solace. Your family and friends are great sources of solace. They know your story, they know your challenges. Words and expressions from your family and friends are a great source of comfort.

Hope can also be found in the printed word. Reading scripture is obviously a wonderful resource. It is a good idea to know those passages that are already familiar. There are thousands that speak directly to hope, even if the word isn’t directly mentioned. This is a particularly powerful tool because it can be accessed by choice.

Another great source of hope is found in the printed word of your own journals. You may have to bring discernment, but reading your past thoughts can be either supporting, or a message of encouragement. I have always believed that journaling is the most powerful tool for positive change. And in that there is hope!

1. Establish a family tradition of prayer aloud when hearing sirens. People gather hope when there is evidence that there is caring for others.

2. Establish a family tradition of publicly offering a blessing over meals, not loudly, but not under your breath. People gather hope when they see that believers surround them.

3. Be positive! Notice how much that you choose to see, or feel, the negative. The truth is yet to be reveled but you choose to think the negative for defensive reasons. Don’t over correct and risk being delusional, but don’t create a negative reality out of fear. Our hope is our refuge, and we choose it first.

4. I am a customer at a coffee shop not because it is the best coffee (it’s still pretty good!). I go there because I am guaranteed to receive multiple smiles. Not enough genuine smiling going on in public. I am encouraged and hopeful because of a genuine smile.

About johndiestler

Retired community college professor of graphic design, multimedia and photography, and chair of the fine arts and media department.
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