Today’s midwinter solstice begins the gradual rebirth of light in the Northern Hemisphere after the shortest days of the year. It marks a turning point, a reversal of the lengthening of night and shortening of days. Slow stirrings of light and life. Whatever is now just germinating will be full of life in due time. As humans we like to see immediate results. However, for now, all we can do is wait and trust. We move on, and look to the future, even if we do not know what shape it will take.
In times like these, I turn back into the heart of our faith traditions, searching for hope. And hope is there to be found, in great abundance. This is not mere optimism. This is not about how we see, what we see. No, it’s about something more rooted in faith: its about hope, “Go back to your fortresses, ye prisoners of hope.” This message in the Bible is also taught by the Prophet Mohammad: “If the Hour of Resurrection comes up, and one of you is holding a sapling, finish planting it“
It is an amazing saying. If the End of Days is upon you, still, finish planting. Go ahead with the act, even if it — and you — will not survive to fruition. How powerful this is for us. We are so often tied to the results of our work, the fruits of our labor. What Muhammad offers us is hope; faith is hope in the unseen.
It is faith in the loveliness of a simple act of kindness — apart from whether it will be reciprocated, whether we will live long enough to see its fruits. Acts of beauty are redemptive in and of themselves. So let us, friends, keep planting. Yes, there are days that it seems like the world around us is coming to an end. It may — or it may not. But let us keep planting. Let us have hope that the accumulation of our collective planting may save this small planet, and our own souls.
Omid Safi, In Time of Despair, Keep Planting