Saved by Hope

This morning a friend of mine and I entered a Starbucks drive-thru. As my friend rolled down the window, we felt a cool morning gust. A young woman’s voice came from the speaker saying, with what may have been the greatest excitement I have heard from anyone throughout the entirety of the pandemic, “Welcome to Starbucks! What can I get for you this morning?”

My friend and I glanced at each other. The woman had sounded completely genuine. It wasn’t a phoney greeting. Yet, the enthusiasm startled us.

“You’re really happy,” my friend acknowledged.

The woman paused for just a second before saying, “Well, yes! It’s a beautiful day. I’m at work. I’ve had some coffee.”

So. much. energy. And it wasn’t just the coffee. It was joy.

We chatted a bit more and she took our order with that same persistent enthusiasm.

As I head to bed and recount this interaction at the start of the day, I am also remembering a First Things article that I read recently titled “Dying of Despair.” The whole piece is worth reading, but in particular the last paragraph in which the author Aaron Kheriaty wrote:

A few years ago, a man in his thirties took his own life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge (as more than fifteen hundred other people have done since the bridge was built). After his death, his ­psychiatrist went with the medical examiner to the man’s apartment, where they found his diary. The last entry, ­written just hours before he died, said, “I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.”

If this man had encountered my Starbucks barista, he wouldn’t have jumped. Even if he couldn’t see her smile through the drive-thru speaker and even if he couldn’t see her smile from behind a mask, her joy was so unmistakable and sincere so to be a basis for hope.

“Now hope that is seen is not hope,” as Paul wrote in his Letter to the Romans. And so what is this hope? It is the hope of knowing that all things work together for good.

Anyone is capable of giving another this sense of hope. Even by the tone of your voice and the spirit with which you go about life you can convey to others something about the goodness of the world.

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