Season of the Soul
Autumn is a lovely extravaganza; a cornucopia for the senses. It is the year’s grand finale; tantalizing us with dancing sunburnt leaves, delicious bounty, crisp air and honking geese. Autumn is usually a season of the soul, bringing reverence, thankfulness and calm reflection. The fluttering leaves cascading down encourage us to “let go”, and appreciate all of life’s treasures.
COVID19 has forced us to “let go” of so many things in 2020. Everyone’s experience has been different…some have had to cope with illness, and too often, its lingering effects. Some have lost loved ones, sometimes unable to even say goodbye. Some are crippled with anxiety and depression, made worse by lack of contact with family and friends. Frustration has abounded with weeks of isolation and curtailment of normal activities; now dragging into months. Some have even taken their frustration to the streets, protesting the infringement of their freedom. We are left wondering how and when it’s all going to end.
It is easy to allow oneself to be overwhelmed by this pandemic and its effects. I usually have a positive outlook on life; looking for the “silver lining” in life’s challenges. However, I too am missing family and friends that are outside of our “bubble” or are too far away to visit safely. I, like many, have had to give up travel plans, shopping trips, painting in a studio, volunteer activities and visits to the gym. I am fortunate to have a compatible spouse and we try to walk or bike most fine days, and sometimes drive to hike somewhere. However, spending the majority of one’s time in a two person “bubble” does have its challenges, with frustrations sometimes vented unfairly on each other.
I have read some interesting books this year and just finished “World Without End” by Ken Follett. Set in the 14th century in England, this work of historical fiction describes what it was like during the plague (or Black Death). That disease also came in “waves” and there was no understanding then of how it was transmitted. People were terrified; thinking that the disease was a punishment for their sins. Venice, Italy became the first city to close its ports, only admitting vessels after 30 days of isolation. This was later raised to 40 days, leading to the birth of the term “quarantine”. The plague reached England in 1348, reducing the population of about five million to 2.5 million by 1377. It wiped out entire families, villages and even towns. Two centuries later when plague struck in force again, people had to stay indoors for one month after the death or infection of anyone in the building. Only one uninfected person was allowed out of the house, in order to buy provisions for the sick or healing. Sound familiar?
Reflecting on those times made me realize that quarantine these days is a lot less onerous. Technology makes it possible for many to work from home and to have virtual meetings and video calls with family and friends. There is access to social media, online courses, shopping, books, movies, music, games, etc. People are spending more time at home with their families, playing board games together, crafting, baking, doing puzzles, playing instruments and finding creative ways to help or cheer others.
I have been online a lot, taking painting classes, researching, writing, and posting to social media. I have tried to post pictures that I thought might brighten other peoples’ days (as they have brightened mine). I enjoy finding information about the photos or sharing inspirational quotes. I have also found a way to volunteer online, creating marketing posts for a Fairtrade store, Villages Calgary. I am also enjoying connecting with far-away friends and family on video calls.
So, there are ‘work-arounds’ if we look for them. The winter ahead will bring more challenges, especially for the elderly. We need to look for opportunities to help others and lift up our collective spirits. In the meantime, let’s get outside as much as possible and enjoy these golden autumn moments, relishing the crisp air, the beautiful colours, the gentle touch of falling leaves and the sound of laughing children as they romp in leaf piles. Let’s give thanks for all we do have and feel blessed to enjoy this “season of the soul”.