Until we walk with despair, and still have hope, we will not know that our hope was not just hope in ourselves, in our successes, in our power to make a difference, in our image of what perfection and wholeness should be. We need hope from a deeper Source.
Until we walk with despair, we will never uncover the Real Hope on the other side of despair. Until we allow the crash and crush of our images, we will never discover the Real Life beyond what only seems like death.
This very journey is probably the heart of what Jesus came to reveal.
Richard Rohr, from Near Occasions of Grace
Goodness, I do love Richard Rohr sometimes! This is not only "the heart of what Jesus came to reveal", but it is the very heart of my own experience. It is what makes sense of what we experience, both the everyday pain of the death of friends, beloved animals, the loss of so many all-too-human dreams, and the existential despair that is often treated as a subject for psychotherapy, but in fact is a true apprehension (known to Buddhist philosophers as vipassanā) of the human condition without Christ's Cross and all that lies on the far side of that event.
This hope is literally glorious, for it is indefatigable, pure, and everlasting. It is a hope that can laugh at death, bring joy to martyrs in their last agony, and confuse and terrify the tyrants and slavemasters of this broken world. This hope is the sole reason that true Christian faith has proved quite indestructible, despite the fall of empires, civilisations and churches.
Truly the Cross is the tree of life, the very axle of all that is, the healing of the worlds; for it is only here that we can actually observe the fact that "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it" (John 1:5) and know for ourselves that "it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)