The Blue Lantern Corps is one of the smaller lantern groups, because the selection and training process is intense and takes a long time, handled like an extended spiritual journey. The Blue Lanterns have the ability to instill Hope in others. Their power rings draw from the collective Hope of all sentient beings. Hope is considered the most precious of the emotional spectrum, because of how rare it is in the universe. It is not pie-in-the-sky, Pollyanna-ish pretending, but true hope for the future. The first Blue Lantern, Saint Walker, lived with his wife and two children on the planet Astonia. He was a priest that helped his people to maintain hope in the face of their dying sun. As such, Saint Walker was selected to be a Blue Lantern and reignited his planet’s star, which promoted even more hope among his people. The Blue Lanterns’ battle cry is “All will be well.”
Many of the clients we work with have a complicated relationship with hope. Some of them seem to lack hope; others have just a glimmer. Some want to hope, but are afraid to (I think of children of abusive or absent parents hoping that their parents will be who they wish them to be). Some have much hope, which has kept them going. Some have hope, though they don’t know how to actualize it. Some know that they must wait for their hope to be actualized. Sometimes we have to hold on to hope for our clients, and part of the work with these clients is to instill hope. Sometimes our clients come to us because they are hopeful that therapy or something else can help. We want to nurture and support whatever hope is present. Hope’s difficulty in mental health services springs in part from it being tied to change and whether that is possible. Can my circumstances be different? Will my symptoms go away or become more manageable? Do I have it within me to do the hard work of change? Though many clients struggle with hope, I am constantly amazed at the hope, no matter how small, that even the most despairing client demonstrates.
The Hope that powers the Blue Lanterns’ rings provides them with basic powers: flight, force shields, and universal translators. However, to fully unlock the power of Hope, a Green Lantern must be present. The power of Will combines with the power of Hope. When clients not only have hope for the future, but also determination and willpower to make that future happen, hope becomes more potent. However, sometimes hope is all someone has, and sometimes there is not anything they can do with that hope, except to continue hoping. When there is something that can be done, hope can be the first spark and give clients something to hold onto. Developing will within them can strengthen that hope, because it makes the hope more likely to become reality. This can happen in countless ways in therapy. I like to point out and reinforce the places where clients are already living out their hope and demonstrating that it is possible. Anything that improves clients’ self-efficacy and gets them closer to their goals can show them that they are capable of change and that what they are hoping for is possible.
Conversely, the presence of a Blue Lantern allows the Green Lanterns’ rings to charge past 100%. Hope makes Will stronger and last longer. We can have all of the determination in the world, but if we do not have some direction to aim it toward, it can go to waste. Hope energizes and directs our determination. In Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl quoted Friedrich Nietzche: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” Frankl was a Holocaust survivor, so he knew the depths despair can reach. Having a hope or a why can keep us going, even in the midst of the worst circumstances. It gives us the will to persevere.
“All will be well.” The Blue Lanterns’ mantra is an abbreviation of a quote from Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich (a medieval Christian mystic). The full quote is “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” Note that neither the Blue Lanterns nor Julian claim that everything is well; they claim that everything will be well. Hope does not turn a blind eye to current circumstances, to the suffering and evil that exist in the world. It also does not claim that current circumstances are eternal and unchangeable. Julian’s hope came from her belief that God is love and cares for all of creation. As such, she trusted in what God was doing in the present and what God would do in the future.
Spirituality is one place that people find hope. Others find hope in humanity, progress, science/technology, family, friends, self, and the list goes on. Green Lantern Hal Jordan ended up with a Blue Lantern ring and wanted it off of his finger. The only way to do so was for him to hope for something, which he found difficult (he joked that he hoped the ring would stop asking him what he hoped for). Eventually, Hal hoped that he and his fellow Green Lanterns would be able to defeat Larfleeze (more about him when we discuss the Orange Lanterns), though he did not know how they could. He did not hope that all would be well. The hope he was able to muster was that this current conflict would be well. There is something to be said for providing a broader perspective and hope for clients. However, sometimes we need to focus on cultivating the hope that the present moment will not last forever, that current circumstances can be different, that clients have the power to make changes in their lives, that this situation will be well. Like the rays of a dying sun reignited, watch their hope burn bright!
How does hope play out in your work? How do you see and encourage hope in your clients? What do you think about the connection between Hope and Will? What produces hope in your clients? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Facebook page!