Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ve tasked myself with throwing open the cabinet of curiosities and wondrous things I call my brain and leading you on a tour of what actually resides in there – all through the lens of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words.
E is for…
Esperance, an obsolete word meaning hope.
The word may be obsolete, but hope certainly isn’t. It may seem a bit tarnished and harder to come by these days, but it’s a traveling companion we would all do well to cultivate.
Hope is an optimistic attitude based on the expectation of positive outcomes. While for some I think it’s a passive approach – a sort of wait and see attitude that leans into distress and defeat and is basically invoking outside rescue help. But I prefer to think of hope as a dynamic process. It can be an energizing invitation to engage in active, creative ways to make what we’re hoping for actually occur. And I most certainly believe that’s much needed these days.
The Greek philosopher Plutarch (circa 100 CE) wrote something that makes me smile and feels so hopeful to me. He wrote:
“Antisthenes says that in a certain faraway land the cold is so intense that words freeze as soon as they are uttered, and after some time then thaw and become audible, so that words spoken in winter go unheard until the next summer.”
Clearly he wasn’t referring to hope by any stretch of the imagination, but I delight in the thought that sometimes things seem frozen and yet they later unfreeze. I can easily make the connection with how stagnant and stuck things seem in our collective world on so many levels – as though we’re frozen in some strange pattern. But in the natural cycle of things, this state won’t remain forever. That fills me with such hope.
Spring, too, feels like such a naturally hopeful time – full of promise, of potential being actualized, of exponential growth and movement. Esperance personified.
Another one of my delights is floriography, the language of flowers. While there are many flowers that “mean” hope, Iris is one of my favorites.
For me gardens are places of esperance. And hope is a beautiful energy to carry. It allows expansion, it welcomes change, it invites others to lean into possibility as well. We all need that, don’t we?
I recently picked up Rebecca Solnit’s book Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities. I do love what she has to say:
“Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away.”
Esperance may be archaic term for hope, but I hold hope so fiercely there is no chance of it being obsolete.
So tell me, how is esperance showing up in your life? Is there a particular flower that speaks of hope to you? Do you feel like something is frozen and awaiting thawing? Do tell – you know I love to hear.