This October, Hope is…
1) Buying wedge sandals for £5 in the sales
They’re no use now, but they symbolise my hope for Summer 2021: fewer stomping walks around the local park; more ‘standing around’ events where sensible footwear is not required! At first, I felt sad to see rows and rows of strappy sandals at clearance prices – I thought of all the cancelled summer events and missed holidays. The price cheered me up quite quickly though!
2) Finding a new spice to transform my dinners
My meal delivery box included Ground Sumac. Made from ground berries, with a lemon-lime taste, it’s worth seeking out if you’ve never tried it. I’m looking forward to introducing it to my friends when I can have them over again.
3) Looking back at old photos
I’m getting to the point where I can’t actually face going to church; I can’t imagine parties and nights out or big family get-togethers. I’m not sure I would get out of bed if I didn’t have to make four packed lunches before 7.30am. Having talked to friends, I’m not alone in this – you’re not either.
Our Zoom church meeting featured a video of memories from 2019. It stirred something in me and reminded me that we are designed for community. How do you feel about the gatherings that will one day be normal again? Look out for our survey about this, coming soon.
4) Learning to walk in heels again!
Even though I’m still working from home, yesterday I made a point of putting on a nice dress and heeled boots. I felt like I was walking like a chicken at first and the waistband felt uncomfortably tight by the evening, but it felt good to dress in a pre-pandemic way.
I’ve been reading Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God by Lauren F. Winner. She illuminates the spiritual significance of clothing but is honest about the struggle we face in loving our bodies.
I am supposed to love my body because God made it and called it good, not because I lost five pounds.. this difficult friendship, this constant shame. … When I feel cloaked with shame, God is tenderly stitching me a suit of clothes. This clothing is God’s own self.
(Wearing God, Winner, L., pp. 59-60)
5) Hearing that Nessie has been found!
Having just made a Loch Ness Monster cake with my youngest, for his school project, I was pleased to hear of a new discovery supporting Nessie’s existence. All these kinds of stories are great for a bit of escapism and whether you have children in the house or not, it’s worth revisiting some things you used to love.
– Give up the 24-hour news channels and watch CBBC’s Newsround for a few days. The whole point of their news is to give a balanced story and protect our kids’ mental health.
– Look for your childhood sticker book and give your teddy a hug.
– Re-discover some favourite worship songs from your youth.
How have you found hope this month?
It’s certainly elusive, and the world seems set to dash all hopes of even one stress-free day. My little list is an honest chat about the little things that are helping me. It might have made you throw your phone across the room in annoyance. I’m sorry if that is the case and I hope you can talk to someone to help you find nuggets of hope. My mum seems to have access to the good news stories of the day – the leaked reports about widespread vaccinations by Easter, and the more balanced analysis of the figures. Speak to someone like that.
There are several places to look if you need to find hope to keep going. If you are feeling anxious, isolated, or alone, Jonathan Carswell from 10ofthose highly recommends a new book by chartered psychologist and experienced counsellor, Catherine Haddow. Jars of Clay: Peace for the anxious soul is now available for around £6 from your favourite Christian bookseller.
The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is leading a movement against suicide. There are useful articles on their website, especially if you are feeling unsure about how to move forward at this difficult time.
These five little things I’ve shared at the top of this blog seem to illustrate how, at the moment, hope in the future is actually rooted in memory, alongside new discoveries. I’m hungry to re-live the elation of past holidays, stories that changed me, outfits that make me think I’m getting on an escalator down to the Northern Line. I know for many of you, you’ve had to go out to work throughout the pandemic and you may be finding hope in different ways, but I’m living a ‘small’ life. Things to remind me of the bigger picture are very welcome.
Over and above all the little things I’ve just shared, the song that continues to bring hope each time I hear is it Elevation Music’s Graves into Gardens.
This song was inspired by a preach about a story in 2 Kings, about what happened after the prophet Elisha died. Two Israelites were near his grave, about to bury another man. When they saw a group of enemy raiders coming, they threw the body into Elisha’s tomb. As soon as the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet (2 Kings 13:20-21). Elisha had a resurrection miracle left in his bones, and God is still bringing dead things back to life.
(Taken from an interview with the group on Reel Faith.)
Lord, we trust you and pray that you will bring life to the dead areas of our lives. We pray that you will turn this world around and restore hope where hope is lost. Thank you for the blessings we find in small things all around us. Help us to bring hope to others at this time and give us the patience to wait for a time when we will be restored to live in community and be free to hug others.
Written by Rachel Allcock