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Illuminating Hope, Day 3: Pandora’s Box

(The day one reflection can be found here: and the responding reflection from Joanna Dunn here:


Joanna started me on thinking about the journey of Hope when she mentioned how we see it differently at different ages.  We all probably on some level remember the story of Pandora in Greek mythology.  She is presented to Prometheus’ brother as punishment for stealing fire.  She is the first woman.  She bears a box and curiosity.  She opens it… and all manner of evil spills into the world.

What you may, or may not, recall is that one thing and only thing that does not spill out of Pandora’s “box” (actually a jar in the original Greek work by Hesiod, Works and Day), hiding just under the lip of the jar, is hope.

And even scholars of such things are undecided about what it means that she (elris is a personified spirit of hope that takes the form of a young woman) remains in the jar.  Perhaps it is that Pandora, and humanity with her, is left clinging to hope in a world gone amiss.  Perhaps it is actually meant to have a less positive reading – that the one good she had to give Pandora kept sealed away in the jar, spreading evil but not the hope to endure it.  (Because Pandora does indeed put the lid back on the jar once she sees that hope hasn’t escaped.

So what do you think?  Do we cling to hope for ourselves – do we loose it on the world?

Pandora’s name is derived from the words for all and gift.  She is the all-gifted one.  But also could be the she is the all-giving one.  Meaning she gives hope as well as ill to the world.  Regardless of the meaning of the myth the implication to me is that we each have the ability to loose pain on the world, but we also have the ability to give hope.  It is inevitable that we do the first; it would be regrettable if we do not seek to do the latter at least as much.  How are you loosing hope on the world this season, even as we await with expectations the one who is hope for all?