The Day I met a snowman

Sister Winnie McGarry

A Winter’s Goodnight

,In late January, on a Sunday morning, we awoke to snow. Everywhere was carpeted in gleaming white. Donning my wellies I braved the elements for a short walk.  I soon chanced upon a very tall snowman.  I looked up at it and almost imagined a response when I said, ‘How handsome you look’!  I took a photo and on return home sent it to a friend with the caption; ‘Today I met a snowman’. Her jestful reply, ‘How sad it is when we get excited about meeting a snowman’, set me thinking.

The Dalai Lama said somewhere: “We human beings are social beings. We survive here in dependence on others.  Most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.”  Aristotle, in the third century BC put it this way: “Man is by nature a social animal”.   

Since Covid-19 hit the world stage in early 2020, spreading sickness and death, this truism has been well attested.   For nearly a year now, we have been urged to stay at home, social distance, and wear masks.  All but essential shops, as well as pubs and restaurants have closed. Many businesses have folded. With schools, for the most part also closed, parents, doubling as teachers are often stretched to their limit. Teachers juggle between online teaching and helping their own children. Much of student life has disappeared from universities.  Very sadly, families watch loved ones die from behind screens, unable to be with them in these last precious moments.  NHS staff, shrouded in PPE and spending themselves for patients, stay with them to the end.  Computer screens have become the medium for attendance at Mass, meetings, lectures and entertainment.  WhatsApp spreads laughter and inspiration among families and friends. Technology has somewhat tempered the isolation of lockdown but the toll on the deprivation of much of human personal encounters has yet to be reckoned.  Already we hear of escalating numbers of mental health sufferers, including children, and family breakdowns.

As the Dalai Lama says, “Our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.”  In this time of lockdown the context of our relationships is drastically altered.

I recall words of an old song, “In times like these we need each other.” These last months have shown us how true this is.   We can only pray that soon some form of normality will return. Afterall, the snow has gone. I no longer have the snowman to talk to on my walks!  Whoop! Did I really talk to a snowmen?

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