Trapped inside the caged walls of the Shawshank State Penitentiary, Red tells Andy words that might save him. “Hope is a dangerous thing,” Red says. “It can kill a man.”
Hope rattles us, terrifies even, especially if we’ve lived with our eyes and our heart wide open, especially if we’ve told ourselves the truth about the ache and the lament. One thing’s certain: if we love full throttle and don’t hold our cards close to the chest, we will absolutely face that brutal pain we’re so desperate to avoid: disappointment. Hope is a dangerous thing.
But anything that’s truly good always carries danger with it. If we’re playing it safe, no one’s having kids, no one’s getting married, no one’s going to write a book or a poem or dream of a new tomorrow or follow a carpenter who acts like he’s God. Love and hope and danger—another trinity.
“Hope is a dangerous thing, my friend, it can kill a man,” says Red. “[But] hope is a good thing, maybe even the best of things. And good things never die.”
Hope intrude everywhere. Dangerous hope. Consider these tulips by our mailbox. Every Spring, they insist on this same story. They’re “hopemongers,” as my friend John likes to say. Keep loving. Keep believing. Keep hoping. Good things never die.