Cohen & Cormier

Sandy Cohen, R.N., B.A.; Roger Cormier, M.A., M.Th.

A while ago we saw a puppy on leash gingerly walking along a reservoir path with eyes and nose tuned into the pleasant surprises along the way. Suddenly, two dogs also on leash lunged at him with ferocious barking and hissing. Both sets of owners kept the threatening dogs away from the startled puppy, who then continued along the path after his owners commented that this was his first frightening encounter.

As he rounded the next bend, he first passed walkers who were gleefully hanging Christmas ornaments on a leafless tree. After the puppy checked out the tree decorating, he saw a bigger puppy on leash who laid on the path to signal his friendliness to the younger puppy. After playfully schmoozing, the younger puppy moved along with continuing expectation of whatever he might encounter.

Looking forward

The holiday season is all about expectations. Positive human expectation is preceded by hope and followed by anticipation. The combination of hoping for, expecting and anticipating longed-for gifts, events and experiences provides satisfaction even before the moment arrives that fulfills our inner promptings. How often have we felt that our anticipations are almost as satisfying as our experiences and their outcomes!

Conversely, we may find ourselves expecting and anticipating what we dread. Unlike the puppy, we are not naive to threatening or disappointing experiences. It is reasonable to be alert to setbacks, losses or things that might cause us harm.

The problem comes when pain, suffering and dashed dreams cause us to let go of hope which sustains us. The holidays are a time when we can step out on our path along life’s reservoirs of refreshing waters, and reach inside and all around us for renewed hope. We may be short on companionship and support, or clarity about where we fit in and can contribute to our troubled world. If so, we can allow a puppy or toddler, or perhaps a seasonal communication from someone special, to rekindle our hopefulness.

Robert Kennedy’s words come to mind: “There are those who look at things as they are, and ask why … I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.” This can relate to our personal lives as well as the world in which we live.