Before you start guessing all sorts of possibilities of what my favourite word is, let me just say that...no...it's not 'hamburgers', 'fries', or even 'chocolate' - contrary to what you think you may know about me! It has nothing to do with the savoury delights that tease the tongue for brief moments at a time. Ask me around my usual 'feeding-time' and I might change my mind. Might. #Might.
For me, this favourite four-letter word packs a punch; and I was reminded of its power again during a Christmas open house, which was held at my Mom's retirement home last week. Every year, the staff at the Village Manor of Waterdown, hold a special evening where residents can share memories of Christmas' past, sing a favourite Christmas carol, or read an amusing story. One of this year's contributors was a 90 year old resident who sang "Have Yourself a Very, Merry Christmas" followed by "Silent Night". It wasn't this lady's singing that caused my throat to tighten, and my eyes to moisten, it was because my Mom was singing quietly along. She wasn't struggling to say the words. She sang them with ease. I understood her fully...and it brought me HOPE.
It brought me HOPE of the things to come because my Mom hasn't been able to speak clearly for almost 20 years due to a debilitating stroke she suffered in 1996. For some reason, that I don't pretend to understand, my Mom can sing more clearly than she can speak. Mom's inability to speak clearly has had such a profound impact on her life that, unfortunately, none of us can truly appreciate - except those who suffer from the same restriction. Nevertheless, on that evening, I strained to tune out the singer on the stage so I could focus on my Mom's words. On that night, my hope was renewed - my hope for a new world, when Jesus will make all things new, and when my Mom can carry on a conversation without any struggle or frustration.
You see - it's not like a wish. I wish for snow on Christmas Day, I wish that the Leafs would make the playoffs (you have to start somewhere!), or I wish that a new career might come sooner than later. All these things happening would be nice and very welcomed. No, this was hope. This was the kind of hope we read about in Hebrews 11:1 - where faith is described as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”. When I hear Mom singing with ease, I have a confident expectation that Mom's speech will return one day because these glimpses into the future give me the assurance and conviction that Jesus' return WILL happen.
Two days later, we lit the second purple candle of Advent called the Candle of Hope, which represents the hope of Christ coming. As the candle was lit, I could hear again my Mom softly singing,
"Silent Night, Holy Night,
all is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin, mother, and child
Holy infant, tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace."
And I prayed for Mom. I prayed that one day I would hear her speak without frustration and without pain. On that day of Christ's return, I will hear her speak as she did when I was younger. It's my firm hope...not a wish.