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Ah, the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness has returned. Autumn is my favourite time of year, with lingering warmth and coolness that is just enough for me to find my socks again. Perhaps this year it also has the hint of hibernation beckoning us to hide out until the spring, so that any winter trouble (meaning ill-health) might just pass over us and leave us alone.
Hibernation though is not physically practical for humans, nor is it spiritually good for us, I think. For those people who have continued to keep distance from others or self-isolate to a greater or lesser extent, the great dilemma continues to be how to work out when it feels safe enough to go back to a favourite group meeting, or linger in a café. The more time on our own, the harder it is and yet the more we feel our need of social contact. Fear of illness can become associated with fear of other people, fear of contagion may be expressed in fear of contact. How can we help each other to enjoy company again? How can we ensure that these understandable anxieties are not realised? Can we tread softly together, with awareness of each other’s sense of fragility? I know that we must continue to hold spaces open for each other, so that we can all have our ‘wobble moments’, knowing that our friends and family are here for us.
I associate autumn with a softness that is lost in a heatwave or big freeze: it is a time to be soft and gentle with the last fruits of the harvest, to give thanks for what we have received. Let us carry that softness and thankfulness into our hearts and actions. One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (a sign that God is working in and through you) is gentleness: it is a quality we can overlook, yet we know the importance of a gentle touch and a soft word, given at the right time.
With best wishes,