I have learned something about Hope recently. Hope is not just wanting a way out, but actively searching and working out creatively for a way out. Hope requires a wish and others to join in that risk in wishing for hope. Like a team, together we creatively discover ways out of the hopelessness we are in.
Take the Australian Cricket team. At last they won the second One Day game in Adelaide against South Africa. It has been almost a year since their last win. How has the leadership group and the coaching staff managed to keep these players searching for the win? I cannot be that easy.
The Tipping Point.
There is a moment in any game which is like a tipping point. The game can go either way and both teams have the chance to win. I remember when I began experiencing this in the games I played in. It was a very hot day and I was umpiring at Square Leg watching my teams captain and the remaining opener hold on despite a good bowling attack. We were three down and it was looking like we could set a decent score.
The two had been together for half and hour and had been slowly working the ball around. Runs were accumulating and the top bowlers could not keep bowling for much longer. I could feel that it was only a few more overs and the runs would start flowing and so would the belief. Then the momentum swings and you wait for the change, you begin to hope.
Standing out there umpiring at square leg and having this hope slowly build in me and in the rest of my team as this partnership consolidated and began building a possible winning foundation. Then like the proverbial candle in the wind the flame was blown away. A short ball was bowled and the captain attempted to dispatch the ball to the boundary. It was not cleanly hit and the ball was well caught at mid wicket. Heads dropped and we were all out an hour and a half later for a just over a hundred runs.
Solutions to Losing.
In the AFL hope in finding a way out of constantly loosing has led to players leaving clubs. Everyone wants to win and the obvious solution is playing for a winning club. It is not a new solution and can be confirmed by the fact that since 2000 only ten teams have won Premierships. This further compounded that since 2008 only been nine teams have played in those Grand Finals.
The tale that gets spun is that any club can win on their day. That any club can, if they are able to, grow the talent and bring about a winning culture. Yet the reality of the have and the have nots plainly exists. There are teams that always seem to win. Clubs that appear to have winning written into their existence. There is almost no need for hope because it is certain that they will win.
Yes there are games when there is a team without a chance, but they still can win. It is about hope and there is something I have learned about hope recently. It is relational. Hope requires others to see a way out too.
The Team That Hope Together.
Hope is revealed as relational in a team sport. How? You can play a great individual game and your team can still loose. To risk within the shared imagination that there is a way out of the current situation is a light that can spread across a team. One single moment and the whole team begins to see that hope and strives towards it.
When it comes as an instant spark of brilliance it can encourage the team onwards but the team has to take this on and run with it. One batsman or bowler can win a game and it does happen, but the hope of the team is in that one player. When that one player does not fire or gets out cheaply the team who is reliant on that one player does not always respond in defiance but usually in apathy.
If the whole team is empowered and encouraged to play well then you have a champion team and not a team with a champion player. When hope is shared it will ignite the imagination of the team and each can see a way out of the hopeless situation. It may not be the same way out either because as a team each player serves different functions. Hope is shared though the actions to bring about the way out the hope inspires each in their own way.
The Momentum of Hope.
For this reason the team sport analogy used here can be transferred to other bodies of people. Families, work places, any group of people who band together for a common purpose. For hope to be more than an aspirational goal that may or may not be attained you require others to believe and act upon it too. Leaders can shake the can, preach to instigate emotional responses but they fall flat when these do not generate real true hope. Hope that is shared and spreads creating a momentum that flows out of the group into their actions and deeds.
When you see the moment where hope begins and when you see it extinguished in peoples lives remember that if hope requires more than an internal strength. Jesus calls not on his own strength on the cross, he calls for the Father. Jesus is taunted by the onlookers to save himself to show his true strength by willing himself free. Jesus is not willing here, he is wishing for us and himself.
The Gospels speak of Jesus foretelling his demise to the disciples and they just do not understand. When he is taken and put to death it seems hopeless. But there is hope in wish of Jesus on the cross, a very risky wish. A risk that will cost a lot but the result of this is a hope for all of creation. This same hope that we share from the one who risked it to the grave and back again.
Phillip Hall is a year round park cricketer (yes in winter too) who studies at University of Divinity in Melbourne. He is currently reading “Images of Hope” by William F. Lynch. Seriously, do your self a favour and check it out.
Phillip Hall has been too long in Melbourne to see AFL in the same light as those back in Fremantle. East Fremantle born and bred, he would love to see the Dockers back in the eight. But would settle for just beating West Coast twice a year.