Mobile, AL, November 2015.

When I think about what’s happening in the world right now (things that have been happening for some time), “uncertainty” is a word that finds its way forward in my consciousness. It’s honestly probably not strong enough language for current events. I have a lot of thoughts (a handful of half-written-but-never-posted Facebook statuses prove it). As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes my visual explorations are just about asking questions. Feeling full of questions and not quite brave enough to venture toward an entirely blank cardboard canvas (sorry, no glue stick in this one), I decided to ask an old book page what it had to say.

{Book page and permanent marker.} If you want to see more blackout poetry, this Instagram account features some great work.


I almost feel naive, posting two projects on hope in a row. I’m optimistic maybe to a fault, at times. It’s easy to talk a big hope game from the privilege and safety of my current context. Violence is very real and, unfortunately, not a new thing. Prejudice, hate, and hardheartedness aren’t new either. Uncertainty? I’m uncertain about where (if?) I’ll end up settling down and why people seem to be so hell-bent on hating each other. But I’m not uncertain about whether or not I’ll have shelter or food or general safety on a daily basis. I’m not sitting here wondering if I’ll have to leave everything I know behind at a moment’s notice, fleeing simply to survive. As I have wondered before: am I even allowed to talk about hope from such a comfortable place? What do I know, you know?

What I know is that in less than two weeks, Christians all over the world will observe the first Sunday of Advent, beginning a season of anticipating the birth of Jesus. What I know is that Scripture tells us Jesus’s family was Middle Eastern and in search of shelter. It hasn’t even started yet, but my experience of Advent and Christmas has already been profoundly impacted by the current refugee crisis and the world’s varied responses to terror. Feeling akin to the little boy who felt better when flowers answered fear in Paris, I can’t help but reach for hope. Hope: It’s the great adventure. Adventure usually sounds pretty glamorous to me, but I don’t read that “great” as synonymous with “super fun.” Hope is a great — expansive, prolonged, colossal — undertaking. Sometimes the road is fraught with bumps and potholes, hairpin curves, and tunnels so dark you’re not even sure there’s a way out.

Here’s to hoping a bridge-building, border-crossing baby in manger can help us figure out how to do it together.