A backpack from the secondhand store and a couple of plate weights. That’s all it takes to lean into the future.

I just took up rucking – an exercise regimen that involves putting weight on your back and going for a brisk walk. A little weight – in my case 20 lbs to start- does a lot to tell you where your weaknesses are.

But rather than obsess over these points of potential failure, they can be signals of the fact that this all will come to an end. And that’s a good thing, because we are all preparing for the end.

Getting better and better is nice, but it’s not the goal. In fact, we do not actually get to choose where we’ll end up, not ultimately. That is all a gift. The future then requires that we have hope. St. Paul says it does not disappoint. How can he say that when it is out of our control?

And yet, as the apostle also observes, “who hopes for what he has?” The Buddhist says to stay in the moment and essentially abandon hope. Hope is likely to disappoint precisely because it is a projection of the Self onto something that isn’t present. Ah, there’s the rub. I must possess it now for it to be real.

Maybe that’s an unfair interpretation. I don’t think it is completely inaccurate. But the question remains, “in what sense do we already have that for which we hope?”

I keep moving forward while the pack on my back seems to want to pull me back. I’m in the middle of a tug of war. I notice my left foot wants to give out a little. Might be a problem. My hips are stretching. That’s good. I keep going. And when I arrive home, I am sharper. I didn’t get here by sitting still. Likewise, had I not had that burden to carry I likely would not have accomplished nearly as much with all my forward motion. 

To have hope is to put yourself into it. Whether we take up our burdens and move out gladly or reluctantly is not what gets us there. It’s the going itself, burdens in tow, that makes us hopeful.



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