My Lord, I have no hope but in Your Cross. You, by Your humility, and sufferings and death, have delivered me from all vain hope. You have killed the vanity of the present life in Yourself, and have given me all that is eternal in rising from the dead. 32

I have complicated feelings about the concept of “hope.”

Hope seems to look for toward an imagined future in which life will improve. I worry that hope may be merely a rejection of the present moment.

But to follow Merton’s prayer and find “no hope but in Your Cross,” is completely different. A Cross is an instrument of suffering. To find hope in the Cross is to acknowledge and accept the present moment just as it is in all its pain and trouble.

To hope in the Cross, is to accept that the way of “humility, and sufferings and death” is the path to deliverance.

To hope in the Cross is not to reject the present moment, but to let go of “the vanity of the present life.”

“Vanity” is “excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements.” The Cross is death to my attachment to “appearance or achievements.” At the Cross I realize that my “appearance” in the world is irrelevant and my “achievements” are worth nothing.

Hope in the cross finds meaning and purpose, not in the temporal material realm, but in the fullness of that Presence which is “eternal” known in the “rising from the dead” of Jesus.

The path to this “eternal” realm lies along the way of the cross.

Jesus said,

‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? (Luke 9:23-25)

The life I “lose” by hoping in the Cross is the vain life of “appearance or achievements.” The Life I gain is the Life that never dies.

What hopes do I hold that lead me away from living fully and deeply in the present moment?

What “vanities” do I cling to that inhibit me from knowing the gift of Life that never dies?