Hope Lies in Seeing Clearly by Fran Salone-Pelletier

This article was originally published in the Brunswick Beacon, and is reprinted with permission—Ed.

I remember smiling as I hummed an uplifting tune written by Jimmy Cliff called “I Can See Clearly Now.” I smiled then and do so now with the optimism of a “prisoner of hope,” to use Senator Cory Booker’s terminology. I smiled because I so wanted everyone to see clearly. I wanted it then and I want it now. It has been such a long, hard struggle to attain and retain that optimism. It has also been a journey into the deepest core of understanding the content of charity.

Slowly, over the years, the song has become more than a hummed tune. It is now a call and command to receive and accept clearer vision. Thus emboldened, I dare to share it with you. I am also motivated to invite your harmony so that we can sing it together using our different yet melodious voices. Sing it from the heart of our human life experiences, all of them:

Oh, yes I can make it now the rain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is that rainbow I’ve been praying for
It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day
Look all around, there’s nothing but blue skies
Look straight ahead, there’s nothing but blue skies
I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Here is that rainbow I’ve been praying for
It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day.

Let’s take it verse by verse while attempting to “see” it from each other’s perspective. First, though, we have to wait until the rain of pain is gone. The rain of obstinate adherence to “my way, my thoughts, my opinion, my truth” must be set aside lest it drown us in an insidiously stubborn refusal to look beyond. The rain of our solidified viewpoints and their reign over change has to be banished. We need to let it go and let it go away lest we lose sight of all the obstacles we have allowed to block our way to truth and beauty, love and life. We need to see those obstacles clearly, unembellished with excuses and denials.

Next to go are the dark clouds of ignorance, bias, prejudice—perhaps even envy and jealousy—that continue to blind us from deeper understanding and acceptance of each other as good people, as aides on our journey, as companions traveling life’s trail. Then we can begin to sing our song with the joy and zest of trust that “It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day.” More than that, we will know the ache of disunity, the anguish of anger, the crush of powerlessness is now gone. “All of the bad feelings have disappeared. Here is the rainbow I’ve/we’ve been praying for.” It is the rainbow of humanity loving itself. It is the bow in the sky that reminds us of divine presence, the presence we bear in and with each other. We have been praying for it every way we can. We have been hoping against hope that the rainbow we once saw clearly and often will return to brighten our lives again.

With that powerful optimism we grow more confident that “It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day.” We can look around us to see “there’s nothing but blue skies. Look straight ahead, there’s nothing but blue skies.” Look straight ahead! No backward look will be allowed to diminish the truth we have worked so hard to discern and accept. No jaded jabs at hope. No holding our breath nor waiting for the next shoe to drop. No, only looking all around to “see clearly now the rain is gone.”

Now, we can see unerringly. We note all obstacles we had allowed to be placed in our way. We can look all around, not just in our small, narrow little section of the world. We can look around us, beside us, beyond us, to see suffering people who need our help. We can find homeless folks who can be housed if we work together as sheltering people. We can walk with the crippled when we recognize our own disabilities, our own limping presence. We can labor with the laborers, feed the hungry, visit the sick, and so much more.

When we admit our own imprisonment, it becomes far easier to release others from their prisons and rejoice in the freedom we all enjoy. More specifically, when we label the variety of things that hold us bound, the enslavement begins to loosen its hold. We begin to feel less pressured to maintain a certain posture. Our hardnosed stance seems less secure, less righteous, less perfect than we had once thought.

Being correct gives way to being compassionate. Pretense collapses into the arms of authenticity. Listening overrides speaking. Wisdom emerges where information had once held force. Knowledge becomes knowing and knowing transitions from spouts of heady data to showers of heartfelt desire. Teaching becomes learning. Giving becomes receiving. Love is the grand equalizer.

Will this ever be a paradise of perfection? Will we always be in the garden of Eden’s envy? Will we never hold each other’s life in the gentle embrace of respect, honoring who we are while empowering each other to become ever more the persons we were born to be? The questions abound, never to be answered fully but always to be embraced as crucial to growth in wisdom, age, and grace. The rains will yet come. The shadows will yet fall. Darkness will yet envelop the earth. Perfection may never be attained. No matter. We can always continue to look around us. Look inside. Look beyond what we think we are viewing. Look with determination and never stop. Look with love and always affirm it. Look with faith and know we are not alone. Look with the hope that lies in clear sight. Look for more than we can see and see more than what we looked for.

Now sing the song as a prayer fulfilled:

Oh, yes I can make it now the rain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is that rainbow I’ve been praying for
It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day
Look all around, there’s nothing but blue skies
Look straight ahead, there’s nothing but blue skies
I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Here is that rainbow I’ve been praying for
It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day.

Fran Salone-Pelletier has a master’s degree in theology and is the author of Awakening to God: The Sunday Readings in Our Lives (a trilogy of scriptural meditations), lead volunteer chaplain at Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center, religious educator, retreat leader, lecturer, and grandmother of four. She can be reached at hope5@atmc.net.

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