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Reasons to Hope: High Contrast Hope and Surrender with Beth Barcus

Photo: Timo Maier

During Reasons to Hope last week I took a walk, listening in as Charlie Lemon was sharing his powerful story with Jessica and just as the conversation was ending, I came upon a clearing in the woods. The sun was shining so brightly across the field, I could hardly see. In the corners and just off the path, there was deep inky darkness, the contrast of light and dark like an Italian chiaroscuro painting. 

I’d never told a field, “you look how I feel,” but that would have pretty much summed it up. The high voltage light, the high contrast darkness, the whole picture depicting the vast spectrum of feelings we might experience at any given moment, reflecting how complex holding space for hope can be. The good news is there are people holding space for us as we continue to excavate, navigate, and negotiate HOPE. 

One of those people for me has been Beth Barcus of Porter’s Call. Like Al Andrews who you might remember from week 21 of Reasons to Hope, Beth has counseled me and many others through some high contrast moments. With metaphor and magic marker in hand, Beth illustrates how high voltage hope can ultimately handle even the darkness it reveals, if we just surrender. 

Here are a few highlights from Beth Barcus on Reasons to Hope this week. To watch the full episode, visit 

Beth Barcus of Porter’s Call. Photo: Porter’s Call 

The Other Side of Suffering 

I really believe our pain is our superpower, our suffering is our strength, and that it is really through those contrasts in the darkness and the light, that we actually can see what’s on the other side. […] what is the hope that’s now possible because of this pain?

High Contrast Hope  

When things are dark, when we’re in a season of winter, so to speak, it feels like there’s no hope, it just feels like it’s full of sorrow, full of loss. And what I think is really beautiful […] is that we see in these seasons of change that on the other side of winter is spring. The trees that looked dead are now alive and blooming. I say often suffering is the birthplace of hope. I’ve tried to view it through those lenses, even for myself personally, as well as with those I get to meet with on a daily basis. It’s just holding that hope alongside the suffering. I do believe that the contrast of the dark hard winter makes the spring more vibrant.

Natural Connection  

I definitely find hope in nature, whether it’s taking a long walk and gathering things from nature, whether it’s pine cones and decorating the house with pine cones, or taking leaves and crumbling them in my hands or what have you. From a personal level, it helps me to get grounded. Even if it’s just literally stepping outside and taking my shoes off and putting my feet in the grass. There’s something about the grounding nature of getting skin to Earth.

Supermom or Surrendered Mom 

I believe that my opportunity to sit in people’s stories in the counseling room gives me the perspective that I need for my personal life. For example, I have twins that are in their sophomore year in college and then I have a freshman in high school. So I basically have two real adult adults and then one well on his way. […] I will tell you it is so amazing and sweet to enter into this other season with our kids that are older. It really is a lot more of coming alongside instead of them being under our roof and knowing the day to day what’s going on. So we’ve had to really release a lot. […]  now that they’re not spending the nights here. Just the letting go has been both sweet but also very revealing for me. I have to hold it loosely.

The people that I get to visit with in my office are sometimes as young as my kids. They’re as young as 18, 19. I see them really wrestling. I see them going through some hard stuff and and then I see the genesis of their struggle and where it takes them and that gives me so much hope for my kids. My goal should never be to eliminate any pain or suffering for them, even in decisions they may make that are poor. If I can relinquish and surrender, then I can just trust the process and see that there’s so much hope on the other side, because of the character that’s going to be built in them as a process of going through these hard things. 

Really the people I get to meet with every day are the ones that are inspiring me to be a more surrendered mother instead of supermom. To be a surrendered mom is super super freeing for me 

On Holding Space for Others 

If I’m honest, I feel like I’m getting way more than I’m giving. I feel like I’m getting so much and that’s why I’m like ‘Oh my gosh, I get to do this every day!’ It keeps me grounded. It keeps me far more centered, far more steady and surrendered than if I were just out on my own doing a job that didn’t keep me in this space. So I know I’ve gained way more than I feel like I give. 

The porters of Porter’s Call. Photo: 

Read more about Beth Barcus’s work with Porter’s Call at 

Writing the Book of Hope: Week 46 

We’ve been writing the Book of Hope together for 44 weeks now, but it’s never too late to join us. Here’s all you need to get started.

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