Mushrooming Hope

Since moving my blog from the church site ( to my own private site ( I have once again been consistently blogging. It is the last day of 2017 and therefore I should follow stereotype and blog about one of two things: 1) the past year, or 2) my hope for the coming year. I choose number 2.

Last night I began reading Rebecca Solnit‘s “Hope in the Dark” and she referenced mushrooms. Solnit wrote:

After a rain mushrooms appear on the surface of the earth as if from nowhere. Many do so from a sometimes vast underground fungus that remains invisible and largely unknown. What we call mushrooms mycologists call the fruiting body of the larger, less visible fungus.

Andy L is my local friend who hunts mushrooms. This is one of the mushrooms he found this fall.

The mushrooms sprout up from a fungus that has been doing all the work unseen underground. The fungus has formed a healthy underground foundation from which the mushroom fruits. That fruiting fits with how I understand hope.

Hope works in such a manner that it leads to behavior that encourages the hoped for outcome. Hope isn’t just day dreaming. “I hope ‘something’ happens” is not the same as “I wish ‘something’ happens”. Wishing is day dreaming. It comes out of a desire to have something happen with no cost or personal effort. Hope isn’t Pollyannaism. It isn’t optimism, which is basically just a positive version of determinism. “It doesn’t matter what I do, everything will just work out in the end.”

Nope, hope is like the fungus under the ground. It leads to action and behavior that will make sure everything is ready for when the rain comes and it is time for the mushrooms. We can’t control the rain and thus we can’t determine when, or if, our hope will ever “mushroom”, but hope leads to us “preparing the ground” for when the rain comes. Hope leads to planning, effort, and sacrifice. As I say at Tapestry every so often (I said it this morning), for the Christian hope involves us living out the future (that we believe God will bring about) in our  present. Hope leads to practice.

Pam talks to her students all the time about “best practices“. I know this because Pam, Adam, and Noah, who are all in the same field of study, use the term in about 3/4s of their conversations (a lot of the Terrell conversations are about Speech Language Pathology – No, I’m not bitter). Anyhow, I know many fields of study focus on “best practices”.  These practices are behaviors and actions that are generally accepted as producing better results than the other comparative practices and behaviors. I believe that hope should lead to us living out “best practices” in our lives. We do the things that are most likely help us to produce the best underground foundation to be ready for the rain and the fruiting (by the way every time I say the word “fruiting” all I can think of, thanks to Pam, is Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire). Not to do best practices has more in common with wishing.

Hope and best practices go hand in hand. We hope to be closer to God, so we begin to practice what is best for spiritual growth. We hope to be closer to our families, so we learn the best marital, parenting, and family practices and begin to live those out. We hope to grow in our friendships, justice, intellect, education, peace, finances, careers, hobbies, and other things, so we learn the best practices that help in such fields and try to practice them. Thereby, we prepare for the “fruiting”.  That “fruiting” may be beyond our control, but preparing for it isn’t.

So that is my hope for myself, my family , and all my friends, that we would live out mushrooming hope in 2018. If we do we will be ready for when the rain comes and the fruiting begins.

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