Bernadette Russell Shares Her Advent of Hope
We have all, in different ways, missed a lot this year, including festivals, parties and get togethers – many of us have celebrated at home what we usually do with friends and family, including Pesach, Eid, Diwali, and so many birthdays. During lockdown we adapted as best we could to the circumstances in which we all found ourselves. All of this made me appreciate how important celebrations are: especially in the tough winter months when we really need cheering up and comforting. My neighbour was sad she couldn’t celebrate Diwali in the usual way but said, ‘It’s coming back to us though, imagine the festival we will have next year!’ We chatted about how lucky we were to live somewhere where there are so many different faiths and belief systems. There is something beautiful for us to learn from each and every one: about coming together, community, connection, sharing joy, food, taking time out from the everyday to reflect and to celebrate, and to consider our hopes for the future.
With Christmas around the corner, I’ve been thinking about all this.
For me the best bits of Christmas belong to everyone, regardless of their beliefs. With this in mind, me and my friend the artist Sadie Cook decided to create a Hope Advent Calendar. It’s digital, so sadly it doesn’t have the traditional doors to open with chocolates behind, but it does have lots of ideas and thoughts. I’ve spent the last twelve months writing and talking with people about hope, and it seems more important with every passing day to nurture our hopes and to remind each other and ourselves of everything we have. We’ve got all this beauty, joy, love, connectivity, even in the dark days of winter and in hard times. So, Sadie and I explored the themes of Christmas and created our blue and gold Hope Advent. We really hope you like it and find it useful. Whatever you believe in, we hope you know that you can believe in people, if you let yourself notice our astonishing ability to find joy, to endure, to problem solve and to be resilient, even in the face of disaster. Let’s celebrate! Here are some of our favourite Christmassy highlights:
Joy – As much as you are able to, be with those who keep you smiling, make you laugh and bring you happiness. You deserve it.
Beauty – Fairy lights twinkling in windows, clouds of breath on frosty mornings, street lights reflected in puddles. Enjoy the wonder of the every day.
Kindness – Kindness is real magic. It has the power to transform a bad day into a good day, and it’s free. This year we have seen it is kindness that keeps us going.
Thanks – Gratitude helps you to let go of sadness and regret about what you have lost and reminds you of what you do have and what you might have gained.
Hope – As the song goes, ‘You’ve gotta have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?’ So make a Christmas wish (and plan your first steps towards making your dreams a reality.)
You can find our Hope Advent on our Instagram @balanceldn every day from 1st – 24th December or follow the wonderful @bernadetterussell
Bernadette’s latest book ‘How To be Hopeful – Your Toolkit to Rediscover Hope and Help Create a Kinder World’ published by Elliott & Thompson (£12.99) is out now and available in all the usual places- why not support your local independent bookshop and buy it here https://uk.bookshop.org