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When I was at school, my favourite hymn (I have never sung it since), went like this:
When a knight won his spurs in the stories of old
He was gentle and brave he was gallant and bold
With a shield on his arm and a lance in his hand
For God and for valour he rode through the land
No charger have I, and no sword by my side
Yet still to adventure and battle I ride
Though back into storyland giants have fled
And the knights are no more and the dragons are dead
Let faith be my shield and let joy be my steed
Against the dragons of anger the ogres of greed
And let me set free with the sword of my youth
From the castle of darkness the power of the truth
In my mind, I could see clearly that young knight galloping through the sunlit and verdant countryside, in search of giants to kill and dragons to slay. I pictured his white horse gaily caparisoned with a scalloped harness in scarlet and gold, his armour polished to a platinum gleam. In my imagination, he galloped blithely on forever; he never actually came across those giants and all the dragons stayed safely hidden from his sight.
So, the words of that third verse held for me no more reality than the first. If I did think about them, the dragons and ogres were something external – separate from myself – easily slain and with no blood spilled to sully my shining view of my own immaculate ego.
Real-life isn’t quite like that, of course, because the monsters live inside us, and they’re jolly difficult to kill.
So, my idea of courage, valour, bravery – all that, has changed. Courage is no longer charging over the barricades, or even steeling yourself to perform that single difficult act. Courage is demanded and found every single day.
Courage is finding the strength to get out of bed, to shower and to dress. Courage is getting the children’s breakfast, seeing them off to school with a smile and a wave. Courage is stepping outside your front door, to work or to shop; to meet people and face the world. Courage is seizing every drop of joy in that darkness and treasuring it as if a diamond found in a coalmine. Courage is just - keeping on keeping on.
I know many of you Moodscope users are housebound; not because of physical infirmity, but because of mental ill health. For you, the dragon guarding the door is ever watchful; opening one glinting eye and rattling his scales if you even get near. If you get past him, the ogres just beyond your garden path are legion. Just because they exist only in your mind, does not mean they are not real.
I want you all to award yourself for your bravery. You may not be that charging knight; but you are infinitely more courageous: you fight your dragons every day.
A Moodscope member.