make strides in cleaning up the Great Lakes and ensuring everyone has access to clean, safe drinking water—regardless of socioeconomic status—are not priorities shared by everyone.
It is easy to lose hope.
But, according to the Pope, when people face great difficulties against insurmountable odds and choose to have faith, courage, and commitment, that is when hope appears. Using stories from the Old and New Testament as illustrations, the Pope has been talking about hope since the first of the year. He shares story after story—using hope as the basis for prayer to address issues like human trafficking; the fate of the Rohingya people being driven out of Myanmar; the terrible suffering in South Sudan; the food shortage in the Horn of Africa that is condemning millions of people—including children—to die from hunger.
He even talks about water.
“We are often tempted to think that Creation is our property, a possession that we can exploit as we please, and for which we must account to no one . . . Creation is a wondrous gift that God has placed in our hands, so that we may enter a relationship with him and we may recognize in it the imprint of his loving plan, the fulfillment of which calls us all to work together, day after day,” he told an audience in February.
“However, when a human being allows himself to succumb to selfishness, he ends up defacing even the most beautiful things that have been entrusted to him," he continued. "And this has also happened with Creation. Let us think about water. Water is something beautiful and very important. Water gives us life; it helps us in everything, but, in order to exploit minerals, water is contaminated; Creation is sullied and Creation is destroyed.”
When it comes to the planet, he is speaking my language. And today, the day I happen to be in his presence, he is speaking about my namesake.
I am meant to pay attention.
Hope is something of the heart. Difficult to define, easier to witness. I think about all the men and women I have interviewed over the last twelve years, people who demonstrate courage in their tireless efforts to protect the fresh waters of the earth; all the readers who have chosen to get engaged, to insist clean, safe water be made a priority. In my mind, they, like Mary, are mothers of hope.
But there is more to the story about my time in Vatican Square.
When the Pope drove through the audience blessing the ten thousand people in attendance, I witnessed a man totally present with those around him. Me included. This world leader who has chosen to influence the culture of a church steeped in over two thousand years of tradition; who is trying to broker peace in a splintered world; is educating millions on the importance of hope; this man taught me what it means to be present. For while he drove through the audience kissing over a hundred babies that morning, when he paused to kiss ten-month-old Annie, the daughter and granddaughter of the two women at my side, there was no one else in the Square.
That total presence in the face of a child is how I will always think of hope.
Armed with that picture, I smell the fragrance of spring blanketing the earth and continue my efforts to protect the waters of the earth for little children like Annie. Thank you for doing the same.
Annie's mother and grandmother travelled to Rome from Germany, hoping to have Annie blessed by the Pope. She was given his undivided attention, his love, and his hope for her and all her family.
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