There is a Japanese tradition that if you write your wish or dream on a plaque, the temple priests will burn it and it will bring you good fortune. Here you can see all sorts of sizes, shapes and languages of people’s dreams. Some of them are personal, some are global. Some are about gratefulness and others are about the future.  Some are specific and about certain people, families, or groups. Some even share their hopes and dreams of moving to Japan. 

I have talked with people recently that have given up on hopes and dreams. They have grown cynical and angry, disappointed and reluctant to try again. Life has beaten them down and the thought of letting hope back in leaves them cold and afraid. They have good reason to be sad – death, depression, financial failure, job stress and fatigue, family strife and ill health – all of these have left them vulnerable and weak. They have tried again and again and end up feeling left out in the cold. You can only take so much before you simply want to roll over and give up. As I talked with these people I felt their pain and could understand their lack of hope. Sometimes what we need is time. We need rest, we need peace and quiet to allow ourselves to heal. We have to deal with the anger, depression, emptiness and emotional shrapnel life has dumped in our lap. Allowing ourselves time to recover sets the stage for future opportunties. 

I also talked with people who are so full of hope their eyes sparkle. They can’t help but gush when they talk about themselves or their lives. They are so excited about their dreams coming true that nothing can stop them. I spent some time talking with one man about his passion and joy for the future that I got excited. His hope splattered onto me and infected my soul. He also told me about his recent family tragedy and how much pain he was still holding inside. So how can this be? Someone so hurt still generates enough hope for it to spill onto others? When I asked him about it, he commented that no life is free from sorrow or strife. No one moves forward without getting a little beat up. The bruises and sadness are temporary, being full of joy and hope is a choice. He reminded me that life is full of ups and downs, it is how you react to them that matters. 

When I passed the hopes and dreams that people shared at the Japanese temple, I thought about why they were putting them in writing.  Were they hoping to keep their dreams alive? Were they somehow believing that writing it down would make it come true? Or were they so full of hope that they simply wanted to share it with the world in hopes that it would sprinkle a little joy on the people who read it? Or maybe they wrote it down to remind themselves that wishes and dreams and hopes and desires do exist, and theirs joining with the others would make everyone’s more solid? Whatever made these dreamers write it down, I applaud them. It takes courage and belief to share what you want with others in this all too often cruel world. It takes time to get over the pains of life and allow hope to grow again. It takes guts to post your heart in a public place for everyone to read. It takes time to recover from being beaten down enough to even think about being joyful. 

So what would you dare write and share in hopes that it would come true? Have you had the time you need to recover from your life’s pain? Would writing down what you want make it easier for you to believe in it? I challenge you today to open your heart to hope and joy and allow the promises of the future to infiltrate your soul. You never know who might be impacted by your act of faith.