Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never is, but always to be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

An Essay on Man: Epistle I by ALEXANDER POPE

Back in November (2020), I was asked if I would share a word of hope or a poem at an event planned for New Year’s Eve. At the time I wasn’t feeling very hope-filled, and some of what December delivered did nothing to bring the ‘ful’.

Although I didn’t end up participating in the event, I did put pen to paper. At first glance, the result may not seem to resound with Hope. However, it is woven in and between almost every line. You can read it for yourself and see what you think, but first a brief look at the meaning of Hope.

What is hope?

A brief Internet search—using exactly those search terms—revealed that the definition ranges from feelings/desire to always looking on the bright side to hope based on faith in a higher power and more.

As I wrote the words that were coming to mind, I came to the conclusion that hope—like faith and love—ultimately is a choice. Feel free to disagree. I’m just sharing where my journey (not just over this past year or through this poem) has brought me to.

As when the feelings fail or aren’t there and when the circumstances give you little reason to hope, you are brought to the point where you have to choose to seek out hope; wherever it can be found. Then, choose to hold onto it.  Which to put it lightly, can sometimes be a process.

Here’s the words that made it onto the page…

Hope springs eternal…”, the poet Pope said, but what about when it doesn’t?

When the third strand has been broken (Ecc.4:12). Now left empty-handed; red raw marks the only remnants of what you clung desperately to hold on to.

Streams in the wasteland, yet to spring forth. (Isaiah 43:19)

Peace be still”, yet to be uttered. (Mark 4:39)

The darkest hour denying the dawn.

What then?

Do as the Psalmists and let your lament be lifted aloud.

Allow your soul to pour out its sorrow; suppress not your confusion, disappointment and rage. (Psalm 42:4)

For there is a time to mourn and a time to rejoice. (Ecc.3:4/Rom.12:15)

With the pathway between them awash with tears; collected in a bottle recorded in a book. (Psalm 56:8)

Will they wash away the ashes to be exchanged for beauty? Become the still waters to which I am a led? (Isaiah 61:3, Psalm 23:2)

Will I find a place where my soul is restored? (Psalm 23:3)

I hope so.

For although one may not be able to say “hope springs eternal”, I choose to believe hope can rise again.

That the ‘yet I…’ ‘but still I…’ ‘I will…’ can be the song in my heart and the declaration on my lips.

For without hope, my journey cannot continue. A journey, which in actuality, maybe the one towards hope.

J Whyne – December 31st 2020/January 1st 2021

  • Optional extras:
    • Why is hope so important? – Taster: “Having hope is important to the very act of being a human being. As Dr. Judith Rich writes, “Hope is a match in a dark tunnel, a moment of light, just enough to reveal the path ahead and ultimately the way out.”
    • What is Hope? – sermon by John Piper – Taster: “Ordinarily, when we express hope, we are expressing uncertainty. But this is not the distinctive biblical meaning of hope. And the main thing I want to do this morning is show you from Scripture that biblical hope is not just a desire for something good in the future, but rather, biblical hope is a confident expectation and desire for something good in the future.”
    • Hope is a Verb – Fifi Baiden (Ted Talk) – Taster: “(in response to definition entry 2) …many people believe this definition to be true, but in reality, it is shallow and isn’t applicable to real life; especially in dire situations. Having hope or feeling hopeful isn’t enough to change our circumstances, but it is the first step.”
    • Hope springs eternal, but for it to flourish it must be shared – Naomi Alderman (The Observer) – Taster: “Imagining it together will – and this is critical – help us to do the actions that will get us there. Hope was the last item left in Pandora’s jar, the jar that contained all the evils of the world. It’s not exactly clear whether that lambent hope was a consolation or the last curse in the jar.