On occasion, I work at an antique store.
It can be slow, so to pass the time during stretches between customers, I wander the aisles, strolling among the McCoy pots and the vintage dresses, the vinyl records and mid-century modern furniture, and I just look. Not much changes here. It’s not supposed to – this place is a time capsule.
There is a stained-glass kaleidoscope that always catches my eye on these ventures. (I love mirrors and stained glass, so of course it does.) The wheel is full of colored glass chips, translucent propeller beads, and a small plastic camel. (Yes, that says camel. It’s weird.) When you look at the components imprisoned within the wheel, it’s hard to imagine beauty. It looks like the bottom of someone’s junk drawer, like a confiscated toy and a broken necklace got stuck to the shards of a broken lollipop in the bottom of Mom’s purse.
But every time I work here, I pick up the kaleidoscope, peer through the hole, and give the wheel a spin. No matter how I spin it, the result is stunning—even that odd plastic camel is somehow fractured and transformed. I’m always dazzled by the images, by the way such debris can be made beautiful by a simple shift in perspective.
I bought that kaleidoscope today because I need to be reminded of this miracle.
There are so many aspects of my life that feel irreparably broken, that feel awkward or out of place, that feel awful or unfair. I tend to fixate on them, like that plastic camel stuck in the wheel, and I cannot imagine how such crumbs could yield any beauty. I am quick to forget that those things serve a greater purpose—I only need to change my perspective to see it.
This is what it means to hope.
Hope is a kaleidoscope. It’s trusting that any circumstance has the potential to yield unexpected beauty. Hope means trusting that the result will be beautiful no matter how the wheel turns. Hope means surrendering our own ideas of what things should look like and allowing ourselves to be delighted instead by the surprise.
It may not be what we expect, but it will be beautiful.