St. Augustine Catholic
Hope for Our Future
Something to Work For
Lessons from the Disabled
Kara's Courage
Twins Learn Early the Gift of Giving
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editor's notes
saint of the month
bishop's message
in the know with Fr. Joe
work life
spiritual fitness
youth ministry profile
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Something to Work For
Winner of the Inaugural Msgr. Joseph James Writing Scholarship Award
By Sara Evans

“Hope empties our hands in order that we may work with them. It shows us that we have something to work for, and teaches us how to work for it.”
Thomas Merton’s No Man Is an Island was published in 1955, and 51 years later, his words still ring true. Not that this should surprise anyone; hope is one of humanity’s most fundamental components, serving as a hallmark of every truly successful life.

In my 14 years of attending Catholic school, I’ve learned a person’s success can be measured by their hopefulness. To truly have hope - a belief that things can, will and must continue to get better - requires so much more than just optimism. You must have the maturity to keep life in perspective, and the courage to put that perspective into action!

These virtues roll right off the tongue, but they are often so difficult to achieve. Hope is our most elusive necessity; I once read a quote by author Graham Greene in which he opined that people are prone to sadness because “secretly, that’s where we feel we belong.”

At first, the quote shocked me; but the more I thought about it, the more I realized its validity. Certainly, we don’t go through life thinking, It’s right for me to be sad all the time. However, as a society, we are conditioned or we condition ourselves to believe that we could, and should, always be: better, smarter, thinner, faster or prettier. Our society is too competitive - and I say that as an admitted adrenaline fan - a girl who once hectored a teammate during a speed-based review game in religion class with, “The teacher won’t hear you if you bang on your book - bang on your desk!”

A healthy competition is all well and good, but attainable standards set you up for failure, and drain away our world’s most precious resources: hope, resilience and confidence.
One of my biggest hopes is that my children will grow up in a world where everyone’s voice is valued and heard. An even bigger hope? This transformation of our world will come even sooner and that I will have played some role, however small, in its advent.

I have a lot of hopes for my own life. Some are a bit selfish (a nice home, a corner office), and some are sweet (a husband, lots of children). Maybe you really can’t “have it all,” but I’d sure like to try! As long as my children are my absolute priority, I don’t see any harm in trying to improve the world, one global merger at a time.

I know how much closer a good education will bring me to these goals, and so I can’t wait to start my career at the College of William & Mary. Leaving Bishop John J. Snyder High School will be incredibly difficult, but if there’s one thing I learned in my time there, it was to hope.

I’d gone nearly 18 years without a nickname, and then I stumbled upon a few during my senior year. One of them was “Lucky Sevans” (an expanded version of the more common “Sevans,” formed by my first initial and my last name). During the big “three days” of graduation celebrations, I did my fair share of reflection and realized how truly lucky I’ve been. I think that very few people are able to meet as many strong, intelligent, faithful people as I have. In terms of role models, my life’s been an embarrassment of riches, particularly because of Bishop John Snyder - my high school’s namesake.

At its very core, my big hope for humanity is that everyone will have hope. When you have hope - the knowledge that no matter what your past, you have a future that can still be shaped in any way desired - you have what you need.

You can see your goals, and you won’t be afraid to work for them; so much of the world’s unhappiness is caused by fear.

Real hope includes courage, but not arrogance. We don’t have hope because we’re sure we’ll get our reward. Rather, we’re a hopeful people because we are, at the end of the day, an extraordinarily lucky people. We have free will and a world that is still filled with an awful lot of good - the Good Samaritan movement is open to all - day or night.

To join, all you have to do is empty your hands, of course. You have to let go of whatever has shielded you from other people - be they material things, or maybe a tough attitude - and stretch your hand out to the world.

It sounds intimidating, but you’re not worried. After all you know that it’s just a matter of time before someone else empties their hands and grabs hold of yours.

Sara Evans is a 2006 graduate of Bishop John J. Snyder High School in Jacksonville. She was one of two winners of the inaugural Msgr. Joseph James Essay Contest sponsored by the St. Augustine Catholic magazine and awarded a $1,000 college scholarship. Sarah will attend The College of William & Mary in the fall and plans to major in Political Science.