“It is winter in Narnia,” said Mr. Tumnus, “and has been for ever so long … always winter and never Christmas; think of that!”
“How awful!” said Lucy.
Here in the northern hemisphere, we’re approaching the winter solstice. The days continue to get shorter and the weather colder. The opening stanza of a 19th-century poem by English poet Christina Rossetti titled “A Christmas Carol” captures the mood:
In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
As he was writing the opening chapters of “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” I suspect that C.S. Lewis may have been thinking of this poem, or the carol of these words set to a score by Gustav Holst. Lucy, exploring the old Professor’s house to which she and her siblings were sent, finds a wardrobe and clambers into it, pushing back through the hanging fur coats, suddenly finds herself in a dark wood, standing in snow, drawn to and illuminated by a solitary lamp post set among the trees.
The land – Narnia – she discovers is full of creatures unknown in our modern world, and animals who speak. And as the faun Tumnus explains, it’s under a spell of the White Witch, perpetually winter, but never Christmas.
Many faith traditions have holidays set in or around the winter solstice. An important aspect of many of these occasions is gathering together in community, warming ourselves over fire and hearth, sharing food and drink, and the exchanging of gifts.
These are ways to push back the dark and the cold.
“Humans are social animals, so it is no surprise that we are wired to help one another,” wrote Dr. Eva Ritvo in Psychology Today (April 24, 2014). “In our complex society, there are many ways to give and the good news is that we now understand that both the giver and receiver benefit from the relationship. Neuroscience has demonstrated giving is a powerful pathway for creating more personal joy and improving overall health.”
T.K. Ignaki, et al. (2016) in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine observe that “both self-reported receiving and giving social support were associated with reduced vulnerability for negative psychological outcomes.” But neuroimaging indicates that “giving but not receiving support was related to reduced stress-related activity.” Giving is good for your health.
AAPG’s Avenues for Giving
The AAPG and the AAPG Foundation exist, in their own ways, to harness the power of giving to benefit our community of geoscientists and other energy professionals as we work together to meet the world’s energy needs.
Speak to an AAPG leader and you’ll hear them talk about how their giving of time and talent in the Association’s activities – whether it’s service on a committee, a governing body, or mentoring the next generation of professionals – has been hugely beneficial to them both personally and professionally.
The resources of the AAPG Foundation, stewarded carefully by the Trustees, have been donated by people like you and me who believe in the importance of supporting the future of geoscience. They don’t do it for recognition, but rather because they see the value of the Foundation’s activities and its commitment to its mission.
There is a reward for giving – it’s that boost in mood and well-being that giving fosters in our own brains – and it’s independent of the size of the gift.
As we approach the end of the year and begin thinking ahead to 2024, I invite you to consider how you might be more involved in AAPG and the AAPG Foundation. Where could your engagement and effort provide value to your community? How could your resources of time and treasure make an impact on others?
Reimagining AAPG is about this: inspiring and designing a revitalized community of professionals that builds on more than a century of heritage and tradition to serve the present and future energy professionals. It’s a group activity.
Winter without Christmas? How awful indeed.
Thankfully, in the end, the White Witch’s spell is broken, the snow turns to slush, and as buds open on the trees and flowers sprout from the ground, Narnia awakens from its long winter.
Best wishes to each of you during this holiday season.