Flipping through channels on the t.v. the other day, I happened upon a show on a local channel called “The Daily Helpline.” The synopsis said, “topics include quarter-life crises; dealing with the murder of a boyfriend; and preparing for a job interview.”

Well!  There’s a diverse palette for you. First off, I never knew there was such a thing as a “quarter-life crisis.”

And then to put, “dealing with the murder of a boyfriend” right next to “preparing for a job interview”?

I thought, what kind of a world are young people coming into, after all?  I mean, just watching this show, who the heck would sign up for this life anyway?

It’s enough to make you think there’s no hope on earth at all.

It made me wonder if it’s possible to impart hope to our kids, to the people we meet.  To the world at large. After all, we have faith in God, and it gives us the fuel we need to keep going. But some of the people we meet have been disillusioned by religion. How can we break off a little piece of the bread of life without being obnoxious?

One of my favorite teachers was Mr. Moffett, a former Jesuit priest with a wicked sense of humor. He allowed us to ponder weighty questions and speak freely, while he remained light-spirited and kind-hearted. Some of my earliest attempts at writing fiction were not very good, but he critiqued them for me on his own time, and was the first person ever to encourage me to become a writer.

Without my realizing it, this teacher showed me what hope looks like. He was truly in the world but not of it. He had so much to deal with – the bureaucracy of the public school system, unruly students, parents who were not happy with their kids’ grades – but he knew that those small moments of humor, and encouraging us to pursue our dreams, would inspire us and gave us hope for the future. And hope really is what makes life worth living. Now, that was a lesson worth learning.