February is an odd month. It can be as cruel as any winter month. And after January burned off much of the early winter joys of fresh snow and hot chocolate, sometimes we can do little more than endure February.
Yet, most February’s, there is also a glimmer of hope if we watch for it. The days start to get noticeably longer. The sun is more beautiful than ever. Sometimes walking surfaces start to clear off. By the end of the short month, we can often feel as though we will survive another winter and we begin to look forward to fishing trips, baseball, garden planting, putting away cumbersome clothing and all the other things spring has to offer. We aren’t there yet. Winter has a way of reminding us of its tenacity. But we can start to anticipate the nicer days ahead.
So I have come to see February as an important month. It’s easy to be cheerful when everything is just as we like it. That’s true of the weather but it’s also true in life. However, life throws so much at us that is not cheerful. Health concerns, family tragedy, financial difficulty and relationship struggles happen with too much regularity. Sometimes we add to it with angst about outside factors over which we have little control. It is the political season, after all, and even if one has good health and solid finances, we humans can still find things to fret over.
February, by itself, is not necessarily cheerful. But it can remind us with gentle nudges that we are our best selves if we practice hope. When we look for those small signs in life, we start to think of what we have, rather than what we lack. We see possibilities, not dead ends. We turn from inward facing to outward facing and see those around us. Together, we slowly start to thaw.
I believe that hope is both a gift from God but also a practiced habit. And it is best cultivated when it’s not easy to come by. That’s why February is such an important month. We can see the signs of hope if we keep our eyes open for them.
Copyright February 1, 2020 by Daniel Blake