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Pondering the power of ‘group hope’

By Susan Neder
SUN Columnist

As I sit here looking out at the first snowflakes of December, I am thinking they are almost too small to see, but they are there.

Lots of people have been hoping for them and I wonder how much that helped them be here.

I know: The cynics among you will say it is just a weather system that can be explained in detail, and you would be right, but I can’t help believe there is an unexplainable component to life and, at times like this, it is interesting to speculate about the influence it exerts.

I don’t suggest I have an answer to that question, by the way, and I’m not sure anyone does, but it is still worth considering. I am guessing it works on both sides of the positive and negative spectrum but, for today, I am focusing on the positive side of things. If there is anything to this idea, then I choose to believe that deliberate positive intention will always overcome negative things.

After all, we all know about prayer chains and prayer quilts; we don’t really know how or why those work, but they seem to. I sleep under a beautiful prayer quilt every night. Aren’t these things an example of what I have decided to call “group hope?” We all know how important having hope is to everyone: It can sometimes make the difference between life and death for someone. So, shouldn’t it follow that “group hope” focused on something would be even more powerful?

I can see how this could apply in a number of different situations. In my own experience with the “Battle of the Netherlands,” I have had so many kind people praying for me, that I know they have made a huge difference. I just returned from Denver where I had another round of tests to be sure I am still OK, and all of the tests were clear.

Did “group hope” play a part in that outcome? I think it did.

We are approaching the Winter Solstice and the end of the Mayan calendar and I admit I am one of those who hope that the calendar ended because they ran out of pencils or ink or something. On a more serious note, I recently read an article saying that the author believed that the predicted catastrophe had been avoided because of all the positive energy and intention focused on healing the planet right now by a lot of people. I really hope that is true; but if it is, isn’t that just another example of “group hope?”

I have noticed in the last 30 days more hope from people in all sorts of situations. It is as though things that haven’t been working well are slowly starting to work again. It is a slow shift, but I see people who have been afraid to trust, beginning to become hopeful again.

One thing I have learned about all this is that it may not be enough to just be generally positive and cheerful about life in general. “Group hope” needs a focus and lots of intentional positive energy or prayer directed on something. So, like a character in one of my favorite movies, I have decided to get a little notebook that I can carry around with me that has the names of people or situations I want to focus hope on regularly. I want to establish a routine of this. You know, I have been wondering how to help the victims of hurricane Sandy — maybe this is something I can give. I don’t really know if it will help them, but it will probably help me!

Perhaps in this season of giving, this is an idea to think more about.

This story was posted on December 20, 2012.