Mud and Cabbage

 by The Rev. Dr. Jason Parkin, Rector

Ah, February. The shortest month of the year, even when expanded for "leap" purposes. Did you know that February was known by the Anglo-Saxons in medieval England as either Solmonath (mud month) or Kale-monath (named for cabbage)? Or that January and February were the last two months to be added to the Roman calendar in approximately 700 B.C., because the ancient Romans considered winter to be, in essence, an undefined, monthless period?

That's not terribly surprising, in a sense, is it? For February does not seem to have the highlights, the energy that some other months enjoy. No major national holiday, such as we find in May, July, September, or November. No religious festival such as Christmas or Easter or Passover. No international celebration on the order of New Year's Eve and Day (now, lest anyone think I am denigrating this month, please know that I have a niece, a nephew, a sister-in-law, and a great niece with birthdays during the month, and that Jan and I went out on our first date toward the end of February, in a year which chivalry prevents me from mentioning here).

All of which means, in a wonderfully paradoxical way, that February can be a time when we focus on important and profound matters in our lives. A month into the new year, what has changed in our lives from this time a year or more ago? What do we hope to accomplish that we have not yet begun; what in our overburdened lives do we wish to jettison in the attempt to clear out some of the detritus that has accumulated; where do we need to devote energy and time in order to nourish our souls and to be life-givers to the people and the world around us?

In church terms, February is the month that includes the second half of the Epiphany season, in which the identity and mission of Jesus the Christ are more fully revealed, as well as Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, a time for streamlining our lives and remembering that all we are and all we do and all we desire to become are gifts from the Most High. During this gentle and lovely month, we are reminded that he who has been revealed as God's Holy One is calling us to lives of deeper faithfulness, of greater purposefulness, of more profound joy.

Ah, February. Short and sweet. Clear of clutter. And a time to remember who we are and whose we are.