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“Hope is the thing with feathers,” wrote Emily Dickinson. That little bird sings throughout this Winter 2018-2019 issue of Parabola. Hope can seem so frail—a tiny sparrow against a raging storm. But it almost always makes it through. As Mark Nepo describes in these pages, hope is often embodied in seemingly small acts. The Danish practice of Hygge or coziness, for example, is a way of creating ease and connection, reminding us that we belong, as is the Bushman greeting, “I See You!”

The root of hope is trust or confidence. In ancient times this meant trusting that we are connected to a living God. How can people in the age of science have such confidence? In this issue, Deepak Chopra offers an ancient Indian solution: “To exist and to be aware that you exist go hand in hand; ultimately they are one. In the ancient Vedic tradition of India, this seamless unity, this one thing upon which all things are founded, was simply called ‘That.’” God is That and we are That. This truth is exemplified here by Swami Vivikenanda, Hindu monk and disciple of Sri Ramakrisna, who strode into the first Parliament of World Religions, held in Chicago in 1893. Inevitably, writes Jeffery D. Long, the event was imbued with “Western triumphalism: that it was in the West, and America in particular, that America achieved its true height of greatness.” Yet by his bearing and his message (“Sisters and Brothers of America”!), the Indian monk expressed a trust that “sectarianism, bigotry, and its terrible descendent, fanaticism” could be overcome, with all religions accepted as paths.

All the features in this issue, from a Buddhist abbess’s essay on eating as spiritual practice, to a shaman’s description of an Ayahausca ceremony in the Amazon jungle, to a pilgrimage to the land of St. Francis and so much more, describe ancient paths to fresh hope. May they light your way.

—Tracy Cochran

Cover Description: The Flight into Egypt. Hans Thoma, 1979. Oil on canvas. Städel Museum, Frankfurt
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VOL. 43:4 Hope
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