Book Offers Parable of Hope with Real-Life Scenarios
Gus, husband, father, non-profit employee, hates his life. Nothing seems to be going right for him. His clients are unpleasant, his wife is distant, his children don’t seem to understand him. Sometimes when he drives home, he thinks about giving the wheel a quick yank that will put him in the path of a truck so he can end it all.
We’ve all been there, and author Jeff Caliguire gets it. And he also understands that “From time to time, we feel that there is a voice calling us from the valley to the mountains.” So in his new book The Habits of Hope, Caliguire lets Gus hear that voice. For some of us, that voice tells us that we have a greater purpose; it can be the voice of God, it can be the voice of someone who believes in us; it could be our own self-confidence coming to the surface. For Gus, it’s the voice of an old mentor from his childhood who teaches him not only about hope, but also how to practice it through daily habits.
Gus first reconnects with his mentor when he receives a letter from him. Of course, Gus’s story is a parable, so the letter might as well be addressed to all readers. Gus’s mentor calls him a seeker and adds:
You refuse to settle for life at face value… You can’t put life in a success box defined by someone else. You are the one who pushes the envelope of what is accepted and acceptable. You see the world as awesome and incredible, but also disappointing and grim. You see hypocrites and they bother you. You look at the rich and famous and ask, “Why are they so broke?” You look at religious people and ask: “Who wants to be like them?” You experience pain and loss in life and ask, “Is there a better way?”
The speaker goes on to remind us that there is a better way and that all who wander are not lost. We’re just looking-looking for hope.
I won’t give away the plot of the rest of the book, but I will say that Gus has a few surprises in store for him when he reconnects with his mentor and learns the habits of hope. I also found a lot of useful points in this book that I probably won’t soon forget, so I’ll talk about them a bit.
One of the most revealing themes in this book for me was time. I constantly feel like I don’t have enough time, that I can’t always stop to smell the roses, that I’m governed by the clock, referred to in the book as “chronos…the sequence of moments.” ” But Caliguire introduces us to another kind of time: “kairos”, which in Greek means “opportune moment”. In other words, the right moment. Kairos is the moment in which we must be fully present and in the moment, when something it happens at the perfect time. Caliguire tells us that kairos is “the way God acts when it comes to time. Not rushed. Not too busy. Not overloaded. Instead, fully present.” The story goes on to explain that sometimes we need to spend our time doing certain things that we might not have expected or planned, but regardless, it’s the kairos time to do them. Those times might be spending time with a friend or doing a extra unplanned trip that leads to new insights Ever since I read this definition, I’ve been trying to focus more on the present moment and enjoy it instead of worrying about all the things that are still on my to-do list because now I’m I realize that everything happens at its proper time.
Another aspect of the book that I liked was the discussion of vision. Caliguire quotes Psalm 20:4, “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans successful.” He tells us that God loves our plans, adding, “If only more business and government leaders understood this! God is pro-vision and pro-plan! God wants us to have big dreams and a vision of progress. But then God wants our plans succeed, not that they stay in a drawer or in a pile. Not having plans or a vision is equivalent to not having hope. We need to invest in our future by planning, believing that what we want to achieve is possible and preparing for it. As Caliguire succinctly puts it, “Those who invest become the best!”
In total, there are twelve HABITS OF HOPE, which form the acronym of the title. Just to name a few, they are HEAR: Hearing that you are blessed, INVEST: Invest in yourself and your dreams, FEED: Feed your brain, OVERCOME: Consistently overcome setbacks, PROGRESS: Progress toward your vision daily, and EMPOWER: Empower Others to Hope.
So how does it turn out for Gus? I guess it’s not surprising that he regains hope and his life improves. That’s the whole point of the book, and saying it doesn’t really reveal anything. But what’s important to remember is that Gus’s story is a parable, a fiction that Caliguire hopes will become reality for his readers. Gus’s story won’t really be a success unless readers take the Habits of Hope seriously and apply them to their lives. We can all use an extra dose of hope, and we can all improve our lives. If you feel like you’re looking for more meaning to your existence, perhaps looking for a lifeline, take a chance on The Habits of Hope. It is like a helping hand reaching out to save you from drowning. I suspect that by the time you finish reading it, you will have created a new vision for your life, one that you can work towards with a little more hope.