What can you give that gives hope?

On December 2, 2020, I was working my way through my own copy of my own Advent journal.

The assignment for that day was simple: “for Christmas, rather than starting with a gift list, start with a hope list. For each person on your gift list, write their name, and list one thing that gives them hope.”

Hope, our daughter, was the first person on the list. It may have been because she was 3,000 miles from home at that moment. I sent her an email. “Use tea and wine and coffee as the pigments to create some art.”

When she asked if I had anything in mind, I said, “I realized that creativity and art encourage you. And I thought, ‘What could she use without having to buy stuff’ and realized that painting with the pigments on the ground where you are could be a pretty delightful thing”

Three months later, she came to the house with a small box of paper. She spread the pieces on the counter, triangles, squares, and the distinct air of wine and coffee. On top was the work pictured at the heart of the cover of this book.

As Hope said recently, “Wine and coffee became more familiar to people this year for a variety of reasons.” Even as we benefit from the stimulation and relaxation, our souls are stained, colored. As the year went on, we used what we had, like grade-school watercolor trays. And yet, creativity and expression are more than the supplies that go into them. The work and rework and play and patterns are essential to the result.


This is from the intro to God. We Still Need You. A year of pandemic prayer and practice from a hospital chaplain. It’s a reminder of what can happen as we think about hope lists rather than gift lists.