Sewer-Rat Hope

Written by Julie

On December 23, 2021

Hope is not the thing with feathers
That comes home to roost
When you need it most.

Hope is an ugly thing
With teeth and claws and
Patchy fur that’s seen some [stuff].

It’s what thrives in the discards
And survives in the ugliest parts of our world,
Able to find a way to go on
When nothing else can even find a way in.

It’s the gritty, nasty little carrier of such diseases as
Optimism, persistence,
Perseverance and joy,
Transmissible as it drags its tail across your path
bites you in the [rear].

Hope is not some delicate, beautiful bird, Emily.
It’s a lowly little sewer rat
That snorts pesticides like they were
Lines of coke and still
Shows up on time to work the next day
Looking no worse for wear.

~Caitlin Seida, “Hope Is Not a Bird, Emily, It’s a Sewer Rat,” from My Broken Voice

It’s the first Sunday of Advent. Our theme is Hope. When I hear that word, Emily Dickinson’s poem immediately springs to mind.
And it’s a good word.
But these past few I’ve needed a grittier form of hope. Something that can take on the darkness. Something a little less delicate.
A few weeks ago someone (thanks, @julmihevc) shared this poem with me, a bold response to the original. And it feels right. True. And the kind of hope I recieve from Christ’s crazy, beautiful promise of return and restoration.
Maybe it’ll be that for you, too.

@taramowens on Instagram

Sometimes, hope is a delicate bird, sweetly singing. It’s small, light, flitting around, looking so neat and beautiful and perfect.

But sometimes, hope is in “a grittier form.” It’s a tough sewer rat. It’s heavy, finding its way in and staying, looking rough and banged up and maybe even half-dead but somehow still there.

And maybe the latter is more often true.

Hope doesn’t always look nice or perfect, doesn’t always make sense. It gets attacked and battered and poisoned. You may think it’s gone, dead, but then it twitches, shows up again.

You can’t snuff out hope
You can’t smother out hope,
You can’t stamp out hope
He is coming.

Ann Voskamp, @annvoskamp on Instagram

He is coming.

Jesus came once, inspiring the holidays we call Christmas and Easter. We have hope because He came and lived with us and taught us and made a way for us to be with Him.

And we have hope because Jesus is coming again. And all – all this will end or be made better. No more tears, no more division, no more struggling, no more sin, no more sickness or injuries, no more dying. The fellowship, the joy, the peace, the love, the feeling of worshipping God together, that we experience here will be so much better in Heaven.

And so our hope continues surviving, even thriving, beyond all understanding, because the sewer-rat-type of hope is “the kind of hope [we] recieve from Christ’s crazy, beautiful promise of return and restoration,” as the poster of the above poem put it.

It’s a “rebellious hope,” as Jane Marczewski, better known as Nightbirde, calls it. Daring to hope. Fighting to hang on. Choosing, defying all logic, to believe better things are coming–He is coming.

We hope because He is.

So even if this isn’t quite a merry Christmas for you–perhaps especially if it isn’t–you can still have hope. Rebellious hope. Sewer-rat hope.

That’s the type of hope Christmas is about.

Wishing you a hopeful Christmas! 🤗

{inspired by Tanner Olson’s Advent Writing Prompts}



Hi, I'm Julie, a 18-year-old lover of books, music, and Jesus. I'm a senior in high school (Abeka Academy) and have been blogging for three years. I also co-publish a digital magazine called Priceless geared toward teen girls. My desire is to use my words to glorify my Saviour and to encourage you in your walk with God. I'd love to hear from you!

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