Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun…
…so wrote a chap* who went to the same teaching hospital as Sally and me, and even taught there before going on to more aesthetic things. That was of course just a year or so before us, although his marble bust was one of several displayed in the entrance hall of the medical school building. But, yes, amidst everything else, it really does look like autumn is here, the golden leaves falling ever faster with the wind and rain. The season when formal warm woollen overcoats come out for outdoor remembrance ceremonies, when Royal British Legion poppies begin to adorn our ordinary clothes. It’s also the season, new since my childhood, when youngsters go out and about unwittingly to celebrate Saints’ Evening (Hallowe’en) but with customs that might have begun long before Christianity reached our shores.
As the summer closes, there’s no doubt that the changing season has many connections with remembrance — remembrance of our loved ones, remembrance of those we have known and respected, remembrance of the 44,000 who have already lost their lives to Covid- 19 this year, and remembrance of those who died in 20th and 21st century conflicts defending our freedom and safety.
Looking beyond our own shores, perhaps we should remember too all those who have died because their lives are so unimaginably desperate that they are driven dangerously to seeking sanctuary in other countries. The Church has various ways of marking this season and there’s still some uncertainty about how many of those we will be able to keep, but that doesn’t stop us from pondering this season of shorter, colder days at our leisure, perhaps even setting aside our own time to remember our own and others’ loved ones, with respect, with fondness, and with love.
Blessings to you all,
*John Keats spent some time living, training and practising as a licensed physician and surgeon at Guy’s Hospital in south London.