In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus is the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. Imagine that, being able to both see where you have been and where you are going – at the same time! Why did this idea come to mind? Well, Churchill paraphrased a quote from George Santayana when he said ‘'Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.’ As the next phase of lockdown is scheduled to be lifted, remembering what we’ve all been through, and not dismissing it as done, might just keep us informed as to how to move forward, or is that a forlorn hope?
Since the lockdown took place we’ve been chatting with volunteers, people who come along to Hope Trust activities, Trustees and donors as often as we can. We’ve listened as people have shared their lockdown struggles; when someone tells you ‘I haven’t touched a living creature in more weeks than I care to count’ it is a stark reminder of how tough this has been, is, and will be in the months ahead until a vaccine is produced. It’s also a reminder that now is not the time to become reckless or careless but to continue to practice all those simple instructions such as handwashing and, of course, social distancing. Are you, like us, amazed at just how different 2m can look to many people? We know this isn’t the way any of us wanted to spend the summer of 2020, but some careful living now might be the difference between ‘freedom’ and ‘isolation’ in the days, weeks and months ahead.
A feature of looking back and forwards at the same time is the ability to both see, and therefore remember, where you’ve come from as well as rejoicing in just how far you have travelled. Not looking back with regret, but hope. Not looking back so that you trip over what’s in front of you. It’s knowing that sometimes you have to forget what’s gone, appreciate what remains and look forward to what’s coming next. To be ready to start a new chapter, without endlessly re-reading the chapter before. This balance between learning from what’s taken place and building upon that knowledge should allow us all to move forward wisely, to heal, to grow and not to feel stuck.
Here at Hope Trust our work will move from being conducted on the phone, via cards and letters or online, back to a cheery chat over a coffee, interspersed by laughter and conversation from early August. This is what we can assure you of – the PPE is bought, the thermometer charged up and ready, tables and chairs are appropriately spaced, hand sanitiser dispensers are on the walls and fresh biscuits have been bought. We will get back to a semblance of normality, soon, but until then we will bear in mind all we’ve learnt, all we’ve observed, all we know to be wise (and unwise) and make sure that, as far as it depends on us, all will be well.