As a school we have been working on our deep hopes. Deep hope is the creation of a narrative of hope for your class; it shapes curriculum, pedagogy, and the story of your class. It comes from Teaching for Transformation. I have the opportunity to share a reflection on deep hope with the staff and community at our board meeting. For myself, retelling the story of why we have deep hope reminds me of why I teach here at Beacon, a Christian school in Southern Ontario. Our vision is influencing culture for Christ and a deep hope is one way we reflect on this vision. This reflection on deep hope comes in three parts.
First of all, we are reminded of Jeremiah’s directions to the Israelites as they are exiled to Babylon:
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:4-7).
In this passage God, through his prophet Jeremiah, gives an outrageous command to the Israelites. He tells them to bless the city of which they are a part as captives. Not separate themselves, not assimilate themselves, but be their own peculiar people that participates in the community to the benefit of both. This is a radical idea. Jeffrey Keuss says it this way: “Jeremiah offers a letter to the people in exile on behalf of God that is both a comfort and a commissioning. Rather than stir up violent revolt against their captors or tell the people to merely bide their time in quiet, Jeremiah offers Israel a strangely mundane task that in itself is revolutionary” (https://lectio.spu.edu/jeremiah-postexilic-seeking-the-welfare-of-the-city/).
Secondly, we reflect on how the deep hopes in our classroom create a peculiar people. Using a Wordle created from the deep hopes of the staff, we can ask which word reflects the peculiar people we are creating. What peculiarities do we want our students to show when being a student, a pharmacist, or a barista? What peculiarities do we want them to show when they are discussing the unhoused or the environment with their neighbor? Our deep hopes create an opportunity to create a peculiar people.
Finally, we reflect on Oscar Romero’s prayer. It is through this prayer that we recognize that our deep hope is both within and beyond our control. In this prayer, Oscar Romero remarks that we are building a kingdom not our own. This is a definition of hope – that we are building for something that we cannot see, that our deep hopes will affect our students both now and in the future.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us (Oscar Romero).