This week I received a very special gift from a grandparent.

It is a little heart with HOPE embroidered on it, I have hung it on my wardrobe door and it is the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning.

I know I go on and on about not giving up hope, I often am told there is no point.

I suppose my answer has to be if we don’t have hope, not only over our personal situations, then what have we got?

Hope is about looking forward and anticipating whatever lies ahead, of expectation and a desire for something to happen.

When we were children, I am sure we all felt that wonderful feeling of what might be going to happen, the night before a birthday, and of course that quite extraordinary feeling of excitement on Christmas Eve.

As we get older and have taken a few knocks here and there, sometimes it is hard to think of the future, to have hope of what might come.

If we don’t hope,what is the alternative?

Last night I sang with my Gospel choir in a wonderful church in the centre of Bristol,the church that my Mums ashes are scattered, I took a few moments to sit quietly and to just reflect on my life, and all that has happened to us. How lucky I was to have had the loving, caring Mum I had, what a privilege it was to be her daughter.

I am eternally grateful to my family and friends for enriching every day of my life.

The church was of course all decked out for Advent and the lights from the Christmas tree, shone out over us all. Many members of the choir have their own stories to tell, of sadness, of illness and personal struggles and looking out over the audience many people will also be carrying their own issues, but the roots of Gospel singing is of hope, of being strong when it gets tough, of helping each other to gain strength to face terrible situations.

Leaving the church and making my way home, the city centre was one of contrasts.

The twinkling of the Christmas lights, many party goers, office parties, hen parties, stag parties, all very merry indeed!

But, I also encountered many men and women who had their homes with them, the dirty sleeping bags, the ragged blankets, plastic bags of possessions. People who are at the lowest time of their lives, people who have a perfect right to have given up hope. As I passed one young man, he looked up and smiled, a glimmer of hope still there as he wished me a Happy Christmas.

I came home, cold and a bit damp, snuggled in under my duvet and just was so thankful to be where I was, safe and secure.

As I woke up,  there is was that little symbol, given to me with such generosity and reminding me, hope is everything.

Jane