I Ask Of You A Difficult Task

Truth be known. Some might think this as two tasks. Some might feel the source material and sentiments are not appropriate. Stay with me though.

Firstly I would ask you to read the following Russian (there’s the current trigger word) WWII poem by writer and war correspondent Konstantin Simonov, written in 1941 to actress Velentina Serova. The moving work was carried by many USSR soldiers, wrapped with a picture of their wife or girlfriend, it became an unofficial icon, a means of coping, a hope the bearer would survive.

Wait for Me

Wait for me, and I’ll come back!
Wait with all you’ve got!
Wait, when dreary yellow rains
Tell you, you should not.
Wait when snow is falling fast,
Wait when summer’s hot,
Wait when yesterdays are past,
Others are forgot.
Wait, when from that far-off place,
Letters don’t arrive.
Wait, when those with whom you wait
Doubt if I’m alive.

Wait for me, and I’ll come back!
Wait in patience yet
When they tell you off by heart
That you should forget.
Even when my dearest ones
Say that I am lost,
Even when my friends give up,
Sit and count the cost,
Drink a glass of bitter wine
To the fallen friend –
Wait! And do not drink with them!
Wait until the end!

Wait for me and I’ll come back,
Dodging every fate!
“What a bit of luck!” they’ll say,
Those that did not wait.
They will never understand
How amidst the strife,
By your waiting for me, dear,
You had saved my life.
How I made it, we shall know,
Only you and I.
You alone knew how to wait –
We alone know why!

That was the easy part.

Now I want you to think of that poem not as a soldier to his love, I want you to see the writer as HOPE, writing to you. I ask you to not to think on how moving to read of such intimacy between two people. I want you to think of this notion HOPE we hold so dear, speaking to you. Of course, within you, some of the words and phrases will change to fit your perceptions, this is fine; the necessity is to cling to HOPE.

In the spirt of the poem this is not the soft HOPE we all evoke ‘Gee I hope things will be better’ and then leaving the rest to someone or something else. This is the dogged, persistent HOPE in the face of all seeming evidence to the contrary. The one which keeps us carrying on and not falling into the mires of Fear, Dread, Despair or those wretched excuses for not wishing to face Reality: Conspiracy Theories and Fashionable Cynicism. HOPE which takes you beyond the boundaries of Reason. HOPE which all your experience thus far tells you is a naïve and pointless exercise, because all the evidence, dependant on the situation is whispering or screaming at you there is nothing left but Doom and Gloom, ‘Roll up all the maps’  ‘Shred those inspirational posters’  ‘Sing nothing but lamentations,’ …….and so on. Yet, HOPE is there, just because.

This HOPE is a hard Task-Maker. It does not promise you perfect solutions. It does not try to sell you The Happy Dawn or The Cheerful Ending, Song (and roll credits) This HOPE is about the beginning, the one which is unsatisfactory but better than all the alternatives which could arise. This is the HOPE for a grudging end to fighting and an ill-humoured backing off. This is the HOPE which serves up rations, blankets and some shelter, to stave off the hunger, the dispassionate elements of weather and the fear. But this is the HOPE which lays the groundwork for other HOPES to seed and grow and from them even brighter ones and so on.

This is a tough HOPE. It is used to being mistaken for and called other names such as Fatalism, Cynicism, Realpolitik or Pragmatism. This HOPE knows them well and sometimes even rides in on their vehicles, grinning knowingly because it has turned them to its use.

This HOPE knows it treads a lonely and harsh road. Yet it bids you follows, for without this rough companion your eyes are clouded with grey hopelessness or blood red rage, your ears are filled with screams which will not be blocked out, your meals taste of ashes and you smell burning and dead. Your thoughts are ragged, your heart turns to a husk and your capacities for Compassion, Tolerance and Respect wither away to a sharp stalks fit only to be used to lash out in futility as you stagger in a haze seeking a solace which in the paradox of human nature you deny; Hopelessness.

Wait therefore, beyond the roiling caused by emotions of the latest media feed, and the confusion of a myriad of discordant sounds. Wait not for the perfect dawn, the soft tender brush of first sunlight, the cheer of birdsong and the growing warmth of day. HOPE as you wait for the coming soon of night’s end; HOPE for the storm and the chill to end; HOPE your shelter will hold fast. Then as you rise HOPING for HOPE, embrace its own patch of warmth, its sliver of comfort, its whisper that your HOPE is one voice in a choir which despite all that may be visible never stopped singing HOPE‘s song. For all The World

You may scoff, you may doubt, you may even wonder just what this post was about. You should not be surprised to feel so, I did give you advanced warning of what was ahead.

You may go away, feeling you’ve ‘Got it’. Then in unknown days ahead come to feel the return of the burden of the media feed and things you feel you have learnt and your hold on HOPE start to lessen. You should not feel surprise to feel those either, I know I will. Thus you must return to holding tight to the rough calloused hand of this HOPE.

A Difficult Task to consistently HOPE with all your heart.

Seasonal Reflections

2020.

Pandemic

Elections.

Wars.

In the wake of the year’s news, which is uniquely still current Christmas Songs can be more of a minefield than usual. I mean, be fair if you can get out and have the money to conduct a ‘Christmas Shop’ of one sort or another are you truly convinced in 2020 ‘It’s That Most Wonderful Time of The Year’?

Back in the turn of the millennium I was still a UK Civil Servant working in a section of the Benefits System called ‘The Job Centre’. It was essentially a place where unemployed went to seek work and claim their Unemployment Benefit. Some klutzs, it’s the only way to describe the decision makers far removed from the realities of looking for work thought it would be a splendid idea to have music playing. Pop music happy, bouncy, pop music. In a place where the majority of callers are unhappy, stripped of dignity and worried about money trying to navigate a system that even the staff didn’t fully understand??? (Explicit words). Now if that was not bad enough the same bunch of socially comfortable and well paid folk decided there would be a Christmas series to play over December…..and amongst all the Yo-ho-hos, Santas, Log Fires, Driving Home (will you keep you fffff-lipping eyes on the road man!) what did we get?????? ‘Simply Having a Wunnderfful Christmas!’ (Even more bad words) being played in a Job Centre!!….Give me strength!…The number of times I wanted to hunt down the machine in our office playing that and tear the tape out (yep tape) for the sake of the public.

Anyway, that out of my system, you get the general idea. In my opinion Christmas Songs of all sorts should only be played at locations where those who agree they want them can listen and enjoy, or be thoughtful.

So before everyone decides ‘Hullo, this guy has a major ‘Huff’ about Christmas and is doing a fayre impression of The Grinch, or Scrooge pre-dreams’ I’ll move onto the ‘thoughtful’ part.

Below is a carol ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’ sung in a traditional way, with lyrics displayed. I chose this because……wait, let me carry on after you’ve heard it

Hope it reached you at some level, because although Christian (Catholic- not that it matters except personally) I feel there is a universality about this one. Let me explain to all folk of whatever belief system (or none) of whatever circumstances, situations and outlooks.

Firstly the tune and the words are in truth sombre and restrained, there is no jolliness here, no urge for you to get up and dance about the place. This is an anthem if you like of a promise (dangerous word I know) of better times. Yes you can focus in on the narrow interpretation of the return of Jesus Christ and the Christian perspective of hope written therein and the joy that hope brings.

Or

Return to the concept of the universality, and consider this song from there.

Firstly although a hopeful offering being sombre and reflective you could not say it is a ‘Jolly’ song, it does not call upon you to exude a happiness you might not really feel like exuding. It is simply, and here’s the word again HOPE.

Secondly the tune and the words are reflective, asking the listener to consider to be grateful for that HOPE.

Thus I ask you to consider joining with me, no matter what your faith or no faith might be, Adapt this message to your own perspectives, even write your own words if you want I wouldn’t be offended (as long as you didn’t assail my beliefs with parodies; don’t do that it’s not nice and you wouldn’t like my sardonic dismissive reply). Turn this around if you will to your own message of HOPE.

And I ask you to consider to be grateful that we have access to computers and we have the time to consider such matters and we are not out somewhere in some wreck of a country, scrabbling for survival and quite forgotten by most of the world. And think in the new year what you might be able to do, even in the smallest way to help someone somewhere.

Rejoice then in sombre and reflective ways.

And HOPE, never give up on HOPE

To You and those close to you I wish you a peaceful, calmly uneventful, contented (for the moment) time; you might not have it now, you might not want it now, you might wish for it later. Whenever, wherever I wish it to you.

(My apologies to fellow Catholics who may not agree with my Relativism. You know how it goes Four Catholics, Five Different Ways of Worship and Belief) .