Tag Archives: gratitude
Here in the UK the country’s population is breathing a collective sigh of relief at the sight, for the second day running, of the sunshine. We might even be daring to imagine that spring is finally here.
It’s been a long, cold winter, on the back of last year’s long wet spring, summer and autumn. We Brits are struggling.
Personally I’ve noticed a much lower mood, and a craving for all sorts of food I really ought to avoid. Comfort eating, someone called it when I mentioned it to some friends yesterday, and we all nodded in earnest agreement. Seasonal Affective Disorder has been long recognised as a medically diagnosed ailment. Rarely before has it been possible to perceive some of the symptoms in the entire population. I’ve even been wondering whether the travel companies have inflated their prices to cash in on Brits desperate to get to the sunshine whatever the cost.
Don’t get me wrong. We Brits love talking about our awful weather. As much as we say it’s awful, we really love it because of the opportunities it affords us to complain. And complaining is one of the primary ways that We Brits engage with one another. In fact a few years ago I read a book by a social anthropologist named Kate someone who asserted that in order to be socially acceptable We Brits are obliged to agree with one another’s weather-based exchanges and observations. Even if the sun is shining gloriously, if someone says to a Brit “there’s a chilly wind though isn’t there?” We are honour-bound to agree. Woe betide anyone to dispute at this juncture the chilly wind in favour of the glorious sunshine. You couldn’t possibly say “Actually I hadn’t noticed the wind – I was too busy enjoying the sunshine.” You’d be ostracised.
But despite all this I think our relationship with the weather has gone a step too far this past 12 months. We’ve moved on from despising the weather just for the sake of social engagement, and have been stuck with weather so despicable that we’ve partially abandoned interaction altogether.
And now the sun’s out and, as one of my recent journaling workshop participants pointed out, we can finally see shadows. It’s wonderful to rediscover light and shade instead of just constantly being surrounded by gloom.
So today I’ve made a special commitment to make the most of the sun, and to be grateful for every opportunity to soak it up. For there’s another thing We Brits are fond of saying when the sun shines: “There’s nowhere like this country when the weather’s nice.” Just don’t mention the chilly wind.
Six days since Sandy Hook.
Throughout the week my mind has periodically reached across to Connecticut to be with the grieving families – the Mums, Dads, brothers, sisters, relatives and friends. Periodically I have felt my own tears fall at the horror of what has happened – the desolation and the unimaginable grief and pain being suffered.
But I’m daring to imagine it. To put myself in the shoes of those who have been so dreadfully affected. To reach out with my thoughts and to say “I hear you, I feel you, I am so sorry, and I promise to tread on with love and conscious awareness in memory of all those that lost their lives, especially the children , so vibrant, innocent and full of promise.”
And I’m doing this in my journal, in order to bear witness, to acknowledge the precariousness of life, its preciousness. Our journals are where we can extend our thoughts to those who are hurting; where we can name and own our own vulnerability, and pledge our intentions and commitments in the name of the victims.
Don’t talk about the end of the world this Winter Solstice. Remember that for 27 families in Newtown this has already happened. And it’s happening all over the world too. In Syria, in Palestine, in Pakistan. Every day the world ends for someone as they lose their most precious loved one to violence, war, disease or poverty. Three out of four of these killers are man-made, and are the result of people not bearing witness, not reaching out with compassion nor admitting and sharing our vulnerability and our precariousness.
This Winter Solstice let’s use our journals to apply ourselves to the particular reality of the last days, months and years of suffering that we have escaped while others haven’t. Let’s remind ourselves what it is to be grateful, and how we must treat others the way we would like to be treated ourselves. Let’s individually and collectively reflect on what we each might do. And let our shared appalled reaction spur us into making a new resolution for ourselves – to live well in our place, and to turn the horror into compassionate action for those people on our doorsteps.
The world will not come to an end this Winter Solstice. But let’s hope something does. Let’s hope it’s our tendency to sleep-walk through life without paying attention to what’s really needed, nor to the part we each can play.
RIP Sandy Hook victims.