Hope is a Thing with Feathers – Emily Dickinson
“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -
And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -
I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.
As I read this poem by Emily Dickinson and considered its relation to the story of Immaculee Ilibagiza in her book Left to Tell, I envisioned a vivid picture of her ninety one days spent in Pastor Murinzi’s small bathroom with seven other women. Throughout her story, Immaculee delves into her deep-rooted relationship with God that developed as she prayed unceasingly in the tiny bathroom. The way Dickinson describes hope is exactly how Immaculee kept her faith during her hardships and horrors; the hope that Dickinson refers is the love and promise of God that Immaculee becomes so familiar and dependent on. Only a crumb of faith was asked of her – similar to the passage in Matthew 17:20 in which Jesus tells us that we need only faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains. The little bird, the thing with feathers, gave her visions of freedom, safety, warmth, and hope through the chilly storm. I think that’s a profound thing, is it not?