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A Message from the Chair: A Quiet Whisper, a Gentle Song, a Steadfast Call...

Dear Colleagues,

Today, Dec 21 marks the Winter Solstice. The darkness of the days will slowly be giving way to light.  This fact is both literal and metaphorical. There are rhythms to the earth and natural world that offer wisdom and enduring truths. It is in that spirit that I offer three “gifts” to our Family Medicine community in honour of this month of special celebration.

Two of these gifts are quiet and small and peaceful.  Inviting stillness.  The third is a “seedling” which I hope will be nurtured and take root in promise and deed through the coming days, weeks, months…

With a quiet whisper, I invite you to celebrate breath.  Breath connects us to all that has come before us – your mother’s breath, and her mother’s and her mother’s. Your breath is a link in a chain as old as humanity.  Breath is life – each breath a tiny, brave step from now to the next moment.  May each of you find a moment every day to notice and celebrate a breath or two.

The second gift?  If you listen hard and with some imagination, you will hear a gentle song I sing in my heart for all of you.  I sing for your courage, your generosity, for the dignity with which you carry uncertainty, the respect you offer vulnerability and the tenderness you offer those who suffer.  I know this to be true of all the people who work in every corner of our department. We have needed all of you to get to where we are today.  We will need all of you for the future.

My last gift is a call to action. Action to grow and protect connectedness to each other and to the Earth which sustains us.  All of us are stewards and emissaries. Actions towards healing, repairing, nourishing, sustaining, and nurturing are also investments in our current days, our future and our children’s future.

May the spirit of your breath, the songs of our shared humanity and our collective commitment to a brighter world bring light and warmth to all the celebrations of December – and the promises of a New Year.

With warmth and appreciation,

Cathy Risdon

McMaster University Department of Family MedicineMichael G. DeGroote School of Medicine