A New Year for Spreading Hope



By Dana Doll, Executive Director

At our last cross-cultural creative gathering we planted paperwhite flowers, while taking a moment to share what makes us feel welcome.

And as I sat at the table with some of my refugee sisters, it struck me that planting paperwhites in the winter feels like a lesson in hope. You place bulbs in a glass container with nothing but rocks and a little bit of water. Without nourishing soil or the warmth of spring, you're left wondering how they will ever survive much less thrive. But then, you watch and you wait. And in the middle of winter on your cold, mostly dark windowsill, roots creep down allowing buds to slowly come alive. Then it does something unthinkable—on some of the darkest and coldest days of winter, the stalks burst upward, growing sometimes an inch every day, until beautiful white blossoms open and fill the room with fragrance.

This is how hope works. It may be during the darkest and coldest of times, and it may seem like nothing can flourish. But given a little nourishment and love, even when it feels like that's all we can give, hope finds a way to heal, to nourish, to allow flourishing.

2017 was rocky for our refugee and immigrant brothers and sisters. The first, second, and finally third executive order had dramatic impact on our nation’s refugee resettlement program. Protected statuses for people who fled horrific conditions in multiple countries are in jeopardy or were cancelled, including 200,000 Salvadorans just this week. We call our elected leaders and anxiously wait to see what congress will do with the fate of over 800,000 Dreamers before January 19th. But you probably already know this. And you may also be feeling tired and anxious.

And yet, the presence of hope is still sending down roots, springing up with new life. Refugees were elected to political office in historic 2017 elections. Treetops Collective grew from 0 to 6 employees. We saw new friendships spring to life, a group of teenage girls blossom with new opportunities, and a pottery business once left behind with war, be resurrected.

In 2018, don’t make vows and resolutions to be perfect and put together. Take vows to be faithful in showing up for your neighbor when it's messy, to love your enemy when no one is looking, and to be part of this process of creating something beautiful in unlikely times and places.

Your voice, your daily actions, your time and kindness are the rocks and water where hope can grow and eventually flourish.

In the coming year, we are excited to do this work with you, the collective, and can't wait to see what blooms.