Finding hope in the dark times – my wish for 2023

The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.
The land’s sharp features seemed to be
The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.
At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

Thomas Hardy

This is one of my favourite new year poems, written at the beginning of a new century on the eve of December, 1900.  The tiny ageing thrush has little to be joyful about, yet still manages to sing through the gloom.

In our description of the Butterfly Approach, we say “We want everyone to wake up with a sense of hope and go to bed with a sense of satisfaction.”  When we don’t have anything to look forward to or any sense that things could change for the better, then it is not surprising that we can sink into depression or despair.  In the face of all the variants of Covid19, this has never felt more relevant.

The dictionary definition of ‘hope’ is ‘to cherish a desire with anticipation.’  As we age or if we develop a dementia, it might be argued that there might be less to look forward to.  Yet, if we are really achieving great care, we can create a sense of anticipation, excitement and hope day by day, or even moment by moment.   The ‘desire’ might be for something very little like eating an ice cream or watching a sunset. If it breaks up the normal routines of the day, it can bring a warm and comforting feeling inside that all is still well in the world.

Let us continue to be hopeful ourselves in 2023 and to pass on this hope to others, just as the Darkling Thrush did for Thomas Hardy on a cold, winter night.

Consultant and Trainer
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