In this season of bone-chilling temperatures and howling winds, we are even more aware of our corporal frailty. When blessed by shelter and free from the many threats to our comfort, we, at least those of us attentive to such matters, turn our thinking to others who may not be afforded the same position. This attention leads to a greater generosity than might be our standard in the warmer, more moderate climes. While the cynical among us might consider it a manifestation of repressed guilt about the plight of others, it likely is related to an instinct akin to a mother covering her children not when they complain of the cold, but when she perceives it present.
It is a good urge to offer protection to those among us either unable or, for reasons not of their own making, unwilling to care for themselves. A desire to share our bounty is of the higher order of human instinct. But as the rage of winter’s blight passes and the Earth’s axis brings the warming sun to our shoulders, we revert to ritual. Ourselves unthreatened, we stop thinking of the other whose need is perhaps no less dire or deserving no less considered. How then does a rational and responsible person remain engaged with her fellow woman and yet not become her permanent keeper? One might wonder, if the need is everlasting then should likewise be the service?
During this time of recurrent generosity and the shortest of daylight hours, shouldn’t we be considering not only the matter today but also the want that will carry through to longer days and easier harvest? To be sure, help during the difficult winter is critical, perhaps lifesaving, for some. But then is it folly to watch the generosity recede with the melting snow?