In the bleak midwinter

Bleak, that’s a good word to describe the weather today. It is only early in the day but the greyness of the light suggests barren landscapes and barren trees. It suggests that the birds have stopped flying and that all living creatures have gone underground. There’s a song written by Gustav Holst by that title.

In the bleak midwinter, frost wind made moan
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow
In the bleak midwinter, long ago …

This is about a world in which hope had frozen like the water in a pond, and there was no thought of life springing from the earth, so hard as it was. And above that, the snow covered the ground, insulating the frozen earth. All living creatures moaned in the frost and bleakness of the world.

But there is a force that cannot be contained within this limitation, a power that is “on high” and we call God. A dynamic that drives out all elementary constraints, that softens the earth and has the first sprout appear like a candle flame in the dark. It is as though the sight of this shoot is enough to make the spirit of winter panic and flee. For it knows that the spring is coming, and that after that summer cannot be withheld.

Our god, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The lord God almighty, jesus christ

The Christian story tells us of a budding stem that will arouse the whole of creation, unseen and seen. There will be songs of joy and love. Hope will fill the air, men will go to work restoring the earth, flowers will decorate the hillside and the houses. Women will give birth and with every child, hope is restored. The song, “Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen” sings this for us …

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming
from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming,
as men of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright,
amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.

The question arises in the joy of such hope is what I am to do with it? To what degree can I partake in the arousing spirit of hope and joy. Or, as Holst sings …

What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give him: give my heart

And so, with every bleak morning, there should rise in our hearts such a love song in anticipation of the potential of spring that is a living witness to the love of God. A strange love that eludes us, that we cannot grasp or contain, that we cannot own but which we can give. Give to whom? Perhaps to the next heart that we meet, in our house, on the street, in a shop or at work. Who knows? That is our part.

I always thought you were North America-based Bob.

It is deep Winter in Northern Europe now, but for some reason it is mild for this time of year here, in the UK, but due to geographics rather than global warming… the UK has always had a tendency to extreme weather patterns due to locale.

It should not be the external conditions that is the final determination our moods.

I believe the critical competence one need to cultivate is ‘equanimity’ and the ability to optimally modulate one’s mood whatever the situation, i.e. bleak, sadness or happiness.

When we hand over the control or influence of our moods to God, then such a God is a crutch to our well-being and mood.
Note there are 6++ billion theists around the world with all degrees of psychological make-ups from the good, the bad and the very-evil.
The very serious problem is when say 20% of theists perceived their crutch is being threatened [chopped] they will response in the most evil ways to secure their crutch, i.e. to ensure they are not in a state of bleakness. This is evident with the violent and evil acts committed by SOME [very significant] evil prone theists in their desperation to avoid bleakness.

So yes, winter will always affect the mood of many, but the most effective approach is to cultivate one’s state of equanimity to modulate one’s mood regardless of the external or internal situation.
To rely on God, such a belief generates very bad and evil side effects especially from the 20 percentile of evil prone theists.

I wouldnt want to cricise your opinion, but could It be that a general consolation can be found in Song, poetry, or literature? The force of nature, or of God, whoever dictates the seasons, is in itself a consolation. Everything passes, the good and the bad are bound by laws that nö human can make or overturn. Is it not so?

:laughing: No, I’m a British expat living in Germany, where the weather tends to be pretty stable - stable good or stable bad, if you see what I mean … :wink:

A good tribute to the natural resurrection of lands and minds. It is fitting to praise whatever elevates our wintry moods without considering it a crutch. Whatever makes you feel worthwhile–music, art, nature—is a testimony to the natural resilience of your spirit.

With the individual[s], in many cases not everything passes, the bleakness of winter had triggered many into depression and some into permanent depression resulting in them committing suicide. Note the suicide rate in Alaska.

I agree the seasons has inspired or induced songs, poetry and literature. Problem is some songs of misery and bleakness arising out of winter could induce the vulnerables into depression anytime. The way the songs [specific chords and structure], poetry and literature are composed and written do influence the moods of the listeners and readers.
Note this song is claimed to have induced many to commit suicide if not feel depress or sad.

My point is one should not be swayed blindly [at least do something to counter] to the effects of the natural seasons on oneself, i.e. feeling bleak in winter and energetic in spring and summer.

Note Aristotle on emotions;
In the below, substitute anger with sadness.

Anybody can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry
with the right person and
to the right degree and
at the right time and for
the right purpose, and in the right way -
that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy

Without being disrespectful to people with depression, I also have a personality trait that is susceptible, everything does pass, thank goodness. The seasons are just an illustration of that, which is why, when spring makes everything come back to life, our hearts rise and we are full of cheer once again. It is also why Christmas, as a festival of lights and hope, is placed just after the winter solstice when days start getting longer again.

It is all a question of how these songs are used. The blues, for example, are mournful songs which can still invigorate people and help them through hard times. If people use songs to make people depressed, then you would be right, but it is more than often the opposite.

The word that you used that makes my point ist blindly, but using Aristotle to make a point in such a lazy way doesn’t do him justice. =;