Are you feeling S.A.D?
November has arrived and with it the spectre of shorter days, longer nights, and as Thomas Hood (English poet, 1799-1845) would have it, “No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no flowers, no leaves, no birds, November”.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the autumn and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. OK, not everyone will succumb to this of course but I fear there is a more insidious sadness out there. Winter has arrived in the northern hemisphere and nature prepares to make her winter bed, often a white silent one where life can huddle till the coming of spring. The once colourful vibrant life of the trees now stand stripped and bare making me ache for them, all this as the impressive V shaped migratory wild geese, wings beating across a pale washed sky of grey head south for the winter. I admit to being a bit whimsical here, and maybe nostalgic. Often as a youngster I watched in awe, alerted by the plaintative honking as these geese flew over, a true herald of the cold months ahead. Often at this time of the yearly cycle a brooding loneliness would overcome me. Now I understand the vulnerability of this moment, living in the country we were often cut off from others by heavy snowfalls flooding from ferocious storms. We had to be sufficient unto ourselves. A scary place to be.
That same feeling haunts me now as we turn our faces towards a winter that could be like no other, as so far this year, 2020, has proved. Covid-19 still stalks, ready to pounce on the unwary, bringing suffering and sadness on a global scale. In a new encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti” (“All Brothers” in Italian) Pope Francis encourages “political leaders to work actively for the common good, to provide the means and resources to enable everyone to lead a dignified life and when circumstance allow, to assist them in resuming their normal daily activities”. He goes on to share the conviction that we are one single human family, “there is no room for the globalisation of indifference”.
Most will be aware of the parable of the Good Samaritan: The parable of the Good Samaritan is told by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke (Lk 10:25–37). It is about a traveller who is stripped of clothing, beaten, and left half dead alongside the road. First a Jewish priest and then a Levite comes by, but both avoid the man. We live in a world so fast paced sometimes that we have no time to look out for others needs. Now, and I speak for myself, I do not go around carrying a medical kit in case I come across some poor suffering soul in need of help, but I assume few would pass by someone in trouble at the roadside and not stop to offer help. Well, according to the parable that is what happened so we must take cognisance of this fact and become aware of those around us, be ready in fellowship with our suffering brother to try and make his lot easier. According to the Pope if we do not “Any other decision would make us either one of the robbers or one of those who walked by without showing compassion for the sufferings of the man at the roadside”. He goes on: “we must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it”.
That shared responsibility must rest heavy on our shoulders as winter sets in and we become, and remain, Covid Aware. This virus has the attention of the whole world yet, the pandemic is disrupting every aspect of people’s lives in an unprecedented manner. We must not forget that beauty surrounds us, even in November. This is rather poignant: “the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind songs in the pines” (Anne of Green Gables).
When a goose gets sick or is wounded and falls, two geese fall out of formation and follow him down to help protect him.
They stay with him until the crisis resolves, and then they launch out on their own or with another formation to catch up with their group.
We must stand by others in times of need.
It will of course be possible to spend time outdoors too as we live here on the Rock in a benign climate. Protection starts with me, observing the safety protocols means I am then protecting you, and so on, we can and must do it. Life is and can remain good to be enjoyed as long as we all play our part, looking out for each other.
Came across this quote recently, it made me smile, hope it will you too: “A grey day and a sad morning, tea and chocolate in the evenings, and warm memories for dessert” There is always something to be thankful for.