By: Pastor Mary Beth Hartenstein

The leaves are beginning to show off their colors; the winds have shifted and come more briskly from the north; and the geese are making their way south as flocks fly across the blue sky.  The season of fall has come to Iowa.

Recently as I was walking Sallie and Otis, our two dogs, I noticed that there is one lone white iris blooming in the front flower bed at our home.  There in the midst of browned leaves and wilted stems is one iris that has refused to give into the changing temperatures and shortened days.  This lone flower made me think about what it means to have hope.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.”  During his presidency, it must have been hard to imagine a better life, a better world that was beyond the horizon when unemployment, despair, and desperation were so evident in the moment.  Yet he could speak these words and offer them as encouragement to those who had ears to hear and spirits open to the possibilities of a dream yet to unfold.

As there is much violence in our neighborhoods and around the world, as there are those hunger in our city and across the globe, as threats of dire predictions seem to be ever present, it is sometimes hard to trust in the hope of a better life, a better world for all of God’s people.  And yet … a simple flower, that does not realize that it ought not to be blooming in the midst of this fall season, reminds me that hopefulness can spring forth if I am simply willing to see it in the unexpected places of life.

It came today in the hospitality that we offer when families come and have their children receive piano lessons in our sanctuary space.  It came today in the form of coupons given to Westover Manor so that they can be clipped, shipped and shared with military families around the globe.  It came today in the news of how individuals, families and youth from Hope UCC participated and supported the Especially for You event.  All are small demonstrations that there is still the chance for a better life, a better world beyond the horizon.

Good thing no one told the iris, now blooming in my front flower bed, that it should not be doing that because then I would have missed out on its unexpected beauty in the midst of the bleakness all around it.  May we, as individuals and as a collective community of Hope United Church of Christ, be as determined to sprout signs of hopefulness for our community and God’s world.