The Courier

Howard RittenhouseEvery year before they changed it a couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to practice one of the great virtues: Hope.

Every year I would defy the odds (and past experience, bitter, bitter past experience) and roll up the rim at Tim Horton’s (all rights reserved). You all remember Rrrrrroll Up the Rim, right?  Now it’s now an entirely risk-free, virtual, click-the-button-and-see-what-you’ve-won-‘cause-everyone’s-a-winner ‘contest.’  Weak sauce, in my humble opinion.

I say bring back rolling the rim (a challenge in itself) and knowing the bitter sting of defeat, or the clarifying joy of victory!

Anyway, in the old days, I would defy my annual losing streak that was as entrenched and dug in as my tapeworm, Phil.  I rarely won a coffee – the only prize worth having – and was mocked without mercy by my chaplain colleagues.

So why did you even bother, you wonder?  Why not just throw in the towel like the Leafs every year and go golfing?  Why not just admit defeat like France in 1940 and quietly sip wine at a café?  Why not just buy McDonald’s coffee and get a free one for every seven I buy?

Well, I’ll tell you!  I did so for the same reason that the Leafs come back every year and play their hearts out (I presume); for the same reason that the French defied the Vichy government and the Nazi behemoth; for the same reason I didn’t buy McDonald’s coffee, but keep going back to Timmie’s.

In a word – hope.  As the English essayist Alexander Pope famously said, “Hope springs eternal.”

Hope spurs many to do things that defy the odds – like buying coffee at Timmie’s day after day hoping to win a mere free coffee only to peel back the rim and see the taunting words “Please play again.”  Yes, please play again, go ahead, you’ll win this time, sure you will.

Like Charlie Brown defying experience and believing that THIS time he’ll kick that football only for Lucy to yank it away at the last moment.  Yes, it’s a little masochistic.  But firmly twinned with hope is more than a little hard-headed stubbornness.

Sometimes that’s what it takes to persevere: hope and a generous helping of inflexible obstinacy.  When life pulls the football away at the last moment; When you peel back the proverbial rim and “Please play again” leers mockingly at you – hope.

Persevere – stubbornly, obstinately, inflexibly hope.

Whatever the challenge, whatever the football yanked away at the last moment – health or financial issues, COVID, marriage or family problems, postings, co-workers or supervisors who make coming to work a daily burden – whatever the cross you have to bear, persevere, hope, stubbornly and obstinately defy the odds.

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