A few years ago, I was standing at a huge, concrete, military wall that surrounds most of the city of Bethlehem, in Palestine (the place Jesus was born so long ago). The wall was spray painted with messages from around the world and messages from people living behind that wall. There was one, scrawled in a corner that caught my attention. It said; “Hope beyond hope.” I had visited folks in Bethlehem and I knew that they were dealing with extraordinarily high unemployment, with no future for their young people, with an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. I had seen the bullets imbedded in the walls of churches during a siege not so long ago.

I brought that graffiti message back home with me to the harbor. We too live with similar things here: extraordinarily high unemployment, no future for our young people, an overwhelming sense of hopelessness.

This past year, we have lost way too many dear ones way too soon. We all have a litany of names of loved ones lost. This past year, I have spent a great deal of time visiting our jails and it breaks my heart to see so many of us locked up, caught in a never ending system of retribution. This past year, we have received some serious threats to our safety and our programs from angry community members.

One day, I am going to ask someone to graffiti that message from Bethlehem on the side of one of our buildings; “Hope beyond hope.” Because, even in the middle of it all, we have still managed to find some thread of hope—as we eat together and plan together and resist together, we have managed to hang on to hope for a better world.

And I hold on to that hope. I have been privileged to meet amazing people struggling to survive on the harbor and they have taught me how to hope. You all have taught me how to hope. Even when it seems all hope is lost, I choose hope.