Tuesday, February 3, 2015


T.S. Eliot said that April is the cruelest month, but for my part I much prefer April to February. In the rhythm of the school year, February has always been when I am at my lowest. I used to blame the weather -- when you live in Michigan, it is easy to blame the weather -- but even the mild weather in North Carolina cannot soothe my troubled soul in February. When I woke this morning it was 23 degrees, but the sun was shining, and the air was crisp and clear. By the end of the month I know the temperatures will break, and Spring will be on her way.

Today, however, is February 3rd, which is another way of saying that February is just getting started with us. One year I tried keeping score: I earned points for successes beyond mere survival, and February earned points for everything that went wrong. February took the lead, and kept it, after I had three flat tires in one week. Why, I wonder, does everything seem to collapse on us in February?

This year I’m opting to be proactive. February is going to try to rough me up, as it always does, so I’m constructing a survival kit of hot chocolate, library books, puzzles, and British television shows. I have a brand new notebook to write in. I’m saying no freely and unreservedly. I’m saying yes to the couch and the cat and the promise of steaming mugs of cocoa. I’m trusting that the world will be there for me in March, and that I will be happier and healthier if, this February, I don’t try quite so hard.

This year, I forfeit to February. I give up on self-doubt and desperation, on frantic explanation, lost causes, and the myth of multitasking.

The quiet hum of my mind this past weekend as I read and journaled, while on a self-initiated writing retreat, reminded me that it is difficult to hear when you cannot even stop to think. When I am tugged so many different directions that I can barely hear myself, it is no wonder I cannot hear God, cannot see her movements, cannot name the truths I search for, and open my eyes to what God might reveal. I forget who I am, and thus lose track of who I am called to be. In the clamor of voices that surround me, I lose track of my own voice, and of the One that guides me.

Prayer, Simone Weil says, consists of attention. Instead of fighting February, I will watch the world from my wintery cocoon. I will observe. I will pay attention. In so doing, I hope I will find that February is not so cruel after all. I hope that, in listening, I will hear the sound of hope, the promise of resurrection, and the wonder of a world made new once more.