That shining place

Rose’s Reader story

Rose is 77 and has been a Care home resident for over 3 years. She has been attending a weekly Shared Reading group organised by The Reader. 

These are  her words. 

You might have a friend here but they’re not really interested in what you’re saying. There’s a lot of them sad. Lots of people that don’t feel happy, frightened to speak. You keep a lot to yourself. There’s no one who really takes any interest. I don’t think anyone else cares. It’s only you who comes and does these things and it’s something to look forward to. I look forward to the poems and I look forward to you talking.

We’re all pleased about you coming. We feel like somebody cares. We didn’t know what to expect when we first started the shared reading group, but what we got was lovely! If you didn’t come, we’d have nothing to think about.

It’s surprising what it does to the mind. Your mind starts wandering when you’re unhappy, it wanders too much. After you’ve been and we’ve read these poems, I think it helps a lot. Everything in your mind seems clearer. I often think about them after you’ve left.

It puts something in your mind. It doesn’t always come straight away but the mind starts thinking. This is the only time we talk, you see. The rest of it is always in there [points to head] and we’re not happy. Everything that’s been happening in the group has been very true. Real. And this stuff that’s written down makes you feel different. It makes you feel lucky to be here. Because whatever’s in these stories is true – a lot of them are very truthful – they say a lot, they mean something.

Bringing it out [puts her hand on her chest]. It brings out what’s been gathering here [hand on chest]. Not leaving it there. Leaving it there makes you unhappy. Bringing it out with the group. Whatever’s been bothering you.

Reading about other things and other people makes you feel better. I thought my life was bad but I think some people have gone through worse. It’s a shame because a lot of people have suffered haven’t they? It makes you think ‘well it wasn’t too bad’. It helps. And we like to know you’re coming here because it brings back memories in a way. It’s important not to chase them away – remember them!  You start thinking about what you’re life’s been like and you think ‘this is very important’.

See – you’ve had a life where you haven’t always been happy, and you can’t really put it into words, it just stays there [points to head]. But talking about these poems, I think it helps. They’ve got a lot to say these poems about life as if, that’s the way life’s got to be. It can’t be good for everybody. We hope it is, but it never is, is it? These poems means something don’t they? They mean something because you can’t wait to hear them, read them and think about how it’s been a bit like the life we’ve had.

(Together we read the poem)

Slowly, slowly wisdom gathers:
Golden dust in the afternoon,
Somewhere between the sun and me,
Sometimes so near that I can see,
Yet never settling, late or soon.

Would that it did, and a rug of gold
Spread west of me a mile or more:
Not large, but so that I might lie
Face up, between the earth and sky,
And know what none has known before.

Then I would tell as best I could
The secrets of that shining place:
The web of the world, how thick, how thin,
How firm, with all things folded in;
How ancient, and how full of grace.                    Mark Van Doren

Good poem that one. They’ve all been good really. It gets everything together that one. It’s very true what it says, it’s what happens in our life. And that’s the way our life is. Slowly but surely, we’ll get there. It’s put me in the picture now. Yes, and it’s a very nice place. Mustn’t worry about it. ‘Then I would tell as best I could the secrets of that shining place’ – we know that shining place don’t we?


Can you help The Reader raise money to bring shared reading, company, pleasure, thinking and comfort to Rose and others like her?

This year, The Reader is taking part in The Big Give’s Christmas Challenge, with the opportunity to raise £40,000 to support older people through Shared Reading.

But we need your help. Click  here to find out more about The Reader’s Big Give and how to donate – all donations must be made online between midday Tuesday 29 November and midday Friday 2 December.

Please help spread Rose’s Reader Story and help us train volunteers to read in Care Homes

2 thoughts on “That shining place

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