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A Message on Hope for the New Year

By Susan Turley

This year, my realization for the importance of hope was rekindled. This is especially important when slipping into the depths of despair. The world can press heavy even on the broadest of shoulders. It can take tremendous effort to believe in new possibilities. 2023 has been a year filled with sorrow and tragedy around the globe. Particularly in these circumstances, the answer to the question “How do we keep hope alive?” carries profound significance. 

I decided to begin this quest to find ways to keep hope alive by examining my lack of hope. I connected my sense of hopelessness with a lack of faith leading to self-neglect. You see, on October 14, 2006, when my son died, my faith died, too. Living without faith is gut-wrenching as well as illuminating. I learned that trying to find meaning in the externals is shallow. Not being able to access wisdom from a Higher Power is lonely and scary. I was drifting farther out to sea on a small rubber raft with no hope, no direction but plenty of indifference. There was a significant part of me that just stopped caring about almost everything. I could care about others but not so much about me. I came to realize this lack of self-regard was really nothing new and I was sick of it. I decided it was time to root out this self-neglect once and for all. So, I got to work. 

I began by asking questions such as, “When do I put myself first? How do I know when it is right to say no? What will it take to feel okay when setting healthy boundaries?” I have struggled with these questions all my life while observing others who don’t think twice about fulfilling their priorities. It was high time that I learn to do this, too. 

So, in this season of my life called retirement, it became possible to prioritize myself. I have found space to pursue my interests. This newfound freedom is wonderful and challenging. Wonderful because I find joy in my pursuits. Challenging because I can feel void of purpose and meaning. During the times I am engaged in creativity I am content. During the empty times I am faced with fear and longing. 

As I started to attend to my priorities, I begun to sense a bit of hope that the existence of God may be possible. This glimmer of hope gave me a rush of oxygen propelling me to take the next step out of the darkness into the light. I am not out of the woods, yet. But I see the light through the trees and the path forward because I am paying attention to my priorities. There was a day many years ago, I was standing on top of a hill overlooking the ocean. A feeling of peace and oneness came over me. I melded into the universe, and all became clear. I hang on to that moment as an anchor, a gift from God, a sacred moment that reminds me there is always hope, the promise of a better tomorrow, another opportunity for growth and rebirth. I hope this coming year will be filled with more happiness than sadness. Yet, life is not meant to be easy. So, let us embrace challenges with courage and blessings with gratitude. Let us hope for a glorious and triumphant 2024 all around the globe, filled with joy, laughter, peace, and most of all full of love. 

Read the full issue of the January – March 2024 Messenger

Meet Rev. Susan Turley

Rev. Susan Turley was in the first class of SSR women to be ordained into the SCNA in 1980.