Quote, Unquote: Natalie Brown

Quote, unquote is an eclectic sampling of things said at and about Hope College.

With April upon us, we are sharing with permission the following essay by Natalie Brown ’17 of Aurora, Illinois, in which her memories of Hope at the dawn of spring provide an entry into a meditation on the hope to be found in Christ — a message itself timely in this season of Easter and a global crisis. It is from her self-published collection Fifty-Two Cups of Coffee: Weekly Reflections for the Contemplative Soul, which in December received a Christian Literary Award, selected by readers through a national recognition program produced by Joy & Company, a Texas-based organization that highlights excellence in faith-based literature.

Natalie also maintains a blog (natalieabrown.com), which includes more information about the book, and where she explains that through her writing she hopes to encourage, challenge and inspire others while transcending barriers of cultural difference, race and religion. “At my core, I believe in the power, love and purpose of God, often demonstrated most clearly through the realm of everyday stories,” she says. “My faith deeply informs the way I see, live and show up to this life, and storytelling is the medium through which I take note of it all.”

I pray that God will open our hearts to the deeper hope we have been offered in Christ, for this is a truth that always offers new life.

Open Our Eyes

“When I was a student at Hope College, I found that there was always a quiet revolution that occurred amongst the student body around the first signs of spring, even if it was still technically winter. As soon as the temperature reached near 60 degrees Fahrenheit, the shorts came out, sandals slid on, and ice cream runs began. It was a beautiful phenomenon, almost as if the campus chose to silently declare – we will see spring again. And in a town where the winters are perpetually long and frigid, this reminder always felt quite necessary. Perhaps the same is no less true of our lives today.

“There is nothing more seemingly sacred than the calm after the storm, breath after it has been withheld, light at the end of the tunnel, but sometimes it takes a second to get there. On good days this is frustrating; on bad days this is maddening. So, how do we seek the potential of spring when we are still caught in the middle of winter?

“In Ephesians chapter one, Paul writes to the believers in Ephesus, proclaiming his hope in Christ and calling on them to seek the same. In verse 18 he offers a prayer that the eyes of this church would be opened to understand the hope to which they have been called in Christ. At the time of this letter, Paul was in prison, yet somewhere within he was able to find the resolve to proclaim a hope bigger than his circumstances. Through this letter, Paul reminds the Church that hope is not always found in what is right before us; and I believe there is something valuable that we can learn here. Though certain seasons may be long, weary, and tiresome, we have been promised rest, freedom, and redemption. Through the spiritual opening of our eyes and hearts, we, too, can find a hope outside our present circumstances.

“Will we be people who trudge through the darkness failing to witness the light, or will we choose to be a community that decides to remember though weeping may last for a night, joy comes in the morning. Today, like Paul, I pray that God will open our hearts to the deeper hope we have been offered in Christ, for this is a truth that always offers new life.”