I recently turned twenty-seven, which—let me inform you—means that I’m now as old as Jane Austen’s oldest heroine, Anne Elliot, and significantly older than the likes of Miss “I am not one and twenty” Elizabeth Bennett.
I spent part of my last day as a twenty-six-year-old in Oxford. I strolled down Christ Church meadows by the river, pausing now and again to look out across the fields at the college itself, in all its perfection of centuries-old stone. Even the weeds in the meadow and the cloudy sky didn’t detract from the beauty of the picture.
My real destination, however, was Magdalen College. I’d visited it before, but only in part, and I was eager, for Lewis’ sake, to see Addison’s Walk. As I walked beside the field of grazing deer, I kept my eyes open for the Lewis poem that I knew was on a plaque somewhere, and I spotted it just before the path made a right-angle turn. It’s a round grey plaque with a poem engraved on it that begins like this: “I heard in Addison’s Walk a bird sing clear:/This year the summer will come true. This year. This year.” It’s an achingly beautiful poem about the recurrence of hope when the year is young.
It’s amazing how persistently we keep on hoping, despite disappointment after disappointment. A new year, another birthday, and we find ourselves hoping that—this year, this year—things will change. Eric Peters sings:
This is the year when laughter douses charred and burnt-out dreams
This is the year when wrens return to nest in storm-blown trees
Is this the year of relocation from boughs of old despair?
This is the year to perch on hope’s repair
As I begin this new year of being twenty-seven, I’m hoping for so much. Frankly, I’m pleading with God for some things to change. And I cling to the hope that they will, because life without hope isn’t worth living.
I need to remind myself, however, that even if they don’t change, my life isn’t without hope. In fact, through Jesus Christ, it’s rich in hope, whether I choose to recognise that or not.