The world is a Muddy Mess.  Russia, China, North Korea – just say the words and people shudder. Think Syria and images of shattered lives jump out. Picture Guatemala and Hawaii and dangerous lava flows, rather than holiday-time on the beach, come to mind. Remember Puerto Rico and phrases like “still no electricity a year later!” and images of a President throwing rolls of paper towels flash into view.

Daily, we learn of fires, floods, tornadoes; unsafe drinking water, hurricanes; homelessness, addiction, mental health issues, poverty in developing countries and developed countries, and children who are being abducted, prostituted and held in prison-like conditions.  Watch what is happening in the United States, and, well … it’s a muddy, Muddy Mess World!

And then something happens to remind us of hope … the kind about  which poet Emily Dickinson wrote: “Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all, and sweetest in the gale is heard; and sore must be the storm that could abash the little bird That kept so many warm.”

That hope showed up for me when a neighbour’s child strutted past my front window in her mother’s high heel shoes … well, maybe ‘strut’ isn’t the right word … more like ‘wobbled’.   A smile broke out on my face, hope filled my heart, and joy flooded my soul.

That hope showed up for me when I experienced barefoot, dirty, hungry little children standing (as there was no room for them to sit in a tiny room in an impossibly crowded refugee camp in Sri Lanka) and sang with glorious smiles on their faces as their eyes lit-up with excitement and happiness.  I remember a smile breaking out on my face, hope filling my heart and joy flooding my soul.

As I think of the Muddy Mess this world is in, as I wonder what kind of a world we are leaving these children and their children and their children, I focus on those two images: the children in the refugee camp in Sri Lanka; the neighbour child in high heels crossing the street.  They remind me to not give away my hope.  Negative thinking doesn’t do me any good.  Negative thinking doesn’t do any good for the children. Negative thinking doesn’t do any good for this Muddy Mess World.

So I look to hopeful images.  They remind me of the power I have to make a difference in my little corner of the world … to vote … to pray …to be active in my community … to do what I can to keep this community safe … to stay strong and hope-filled and take a lesson from the children – keep playing, keep laughing, keep dancing, keep singing. In spite of the grief, in spite of the fear, in spite of the angst and stress and worry … there are children in this Muddy Mess World playing dress-up, singing, dancing, playing baseball with pebbles from the bombed-out buildings.  We must not let negative energy cloud our ability to hope … and believe … that this Muddy Mess World *will* get cleaned up.

Photo & Text © June Maffin