Reflection on No!
November is a month of remembrance, heralded by Hallowe’en or All Hallows’ Eve when the dead are traditionally remembered on the day also known as All Souls’ Day. That is followed by All Saints on 1st November and the remembrance of the Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament on 5th, now often commemorated as Bonfire Night. With the Saints of Wales on 8th, Remembrance Day on 11th and Remembrance Sunday on 14th November, as well as various other saints’ days and Prisoners’ Week, there is a lot to remember this month as the clocks go back and winter draws on.
However, Thomas Hood’s poem No! takes a dim view of the month of “no warmth, no cheerfulness, no shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees, no fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds, November!” As COP 26 gathered, this was echoed on the placard of a demonstrator complaining about lack of planning, the slogan reading No Planet B and the President of COP26 recognising that we have, “… no choice but to deliver”. It can actually be helpful to have seasonal or political contrasts but, with the isolation of the pandemic, the problems with the supply chain and concerns about climate change, some folk may agree with Hood’s negativity as mental health concerns and anxiety issues increase.
The singer Adele has just released a single, Easy on me, which recalls some of her experiences of depression, anxiety, panic attacks and divorce. As a singer of such repute, Adele’s honesty about painful memories is already encouraging others to face their own issues and to remember that good experiences can be reclaimed. Chris Martin of Coldplay has said of Adele that, “She is very connected to her normal-ness and she sings about it with her extraordinary-ness so she’s an amazing combination of the terrestrial and the celestial.”
Perhaps November is a good time to remember that we’re all able to be a mixture of the terrestrial and celestial if we so choose but that the choices we each make impinge on the needs and lives of others. Hellish, mundane and heavenly memories or experiences are all part of life for us today just as they were for those we commemorate this month – but there are ways in which we could make a positive difference for others, the environment and ourselves. No! could become Yes! – will it?
With my prayers; pob bendith,