All around us, we see signs that nature is gearing up for the next spectacular season. Before the cold, bleak winter months set in, nature celebrates this time in a blaze of golden glory. 

Warmth and colour – that’s what signifies autumn for me. The vibrant displays of russet and amber leaves on the trees and cosy evenings spent indoors. The telltale sight of huge flocks of swallows heading back to warmer climes before winter sets in. Plump acorns, shiny brown conkers and sycamore wings nestled in the leaf litter at our feet. Digging out our soup spoons and dipping a toe into this season’s film therapy – with obligatory blankets by a roaring fire.

At The Abbey, the onset of autumn has been marked by our Harvest festival. A thanksgiving ceremony held in Christ Church – led by our Charity Captains and Lower Junior students –  celebrated the successful gathering of the year’s crops, an opportunity to express our gratitude for all that this planet bestows upon us and to give back to local charities through generous donations from our community. ‘Warm’ is how we describe the feeling we experience when we witness such acts of connection and kindness. Scientists refer to a ‘helpers’ high’ – reflecting the pleasure centre of our brain which illuminates when we are kind. It’s good for the person helping as well as being good for the person being helped. 

Autumnal colour runs through this week as a common theme. We celebrate the triumph of justice in different ways – be that through lighting the night skies with rows of Diwali diyas, enjoying a dazzling firework display or burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire. In our morning assemblies, these events evoke thoughts of shared hope – symbolised by the light of a flame shining through, despite the darkness. We celebrate such festivals of new beginnings and mark the last harvest before winter, whilst reminding ourselves of the joy of good defeating evil, and of wisdom over ignorance.

Whatever this season holds for you, I hope this half term offers opportunities for being kind to yourself and those around you – benefiting your health and theirs. At a time when society continues to navigate the shadow cast over our lives by COVID-19, perhaps we could all start by giving the next person we see a smile. Warmth and colour may drain from view as we tackle the complexities of this pandemic, but let us remember that however vast the darkness, we may choose to supply our own light. It has been said that it is often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars. To quote Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus, “Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself”. 

Nisha Kaura, Head of the Junior School