In My View: Spring speaks of hope and new beginnings

Spring has sprung! Daffodils are emerging, birds are singing, buds are swelling. And the vaccine roll-out reaches lower and lower down the age-range.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 11:31 am

Spring speaks of hope and new beginnings, and hope is something we need, especially after the year we have all had. In fact, life would be altogether miserable without hope. Even in the darkest of times, we need to have something worth living for as we look ahead. The medieval Italian writer Dante defined hell as a place without hope. The inscription above its gate solemnly announces, “All hope abandon, ye who enter here”.

Vital though hope is, it is not easy to put your finger on just what it is or where it can be found. Signs of new life in the natural world lift our spirits. Beauty in music and the joy of friendship have the same effect, assuring us that life is good. The experience and memory of such good things give us hope for tomorrow. That's what makes the start of Spring such a hopeful time of year. It reminds us of what we know from the past and re-awakens feelings of confidence. We look forward to what is to come, reassured by the return of colour and life.

We often use hope and optimism interchangeably, but hope goes deeper than optimism. If I am optimistic, then I think something I want to happen is likely. For example, having heard the Prime Minister's road-map for ending lock-down, I might say, “I am optimistic we will be able to go on holiday this summer”. At its heart is a calculation of what the future holds. Hope, on the other hand, is more personal. For me to say, “I hope we will be able to go on holiday this summer”, reveals my feelings, not my opinion.

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Hope doesn't actually rely on any particular outcome. We can be hopeful about the future, whether or not a holiday materializes. It is a state of mind, a sense of confidence and security as we travel through time.

The famous Bible passage on love that is often read at weddings tells us that “love hopes all things”. Where love is present – the security of a deep and trustworthy relationship – hope will be the inevitable outcome. Underlying this remarkable claim is the idea that while all human relationships must come to an end, a knowledge of the love of God brings with it a hope that cannot fail.