February is a funny old month. Statistics suggest that for many of us, February is a month when we feel a little down in the dumps. Rates of depression are apparently higher and many of us just battle-on trying to get through another cold winter month. It is worth contemplating where that darkness comes from: the sun hasn’t left us; it is just that we have momentarily moved away from it. In November our location on the Earth finally turned away from the Sun to such a degree in its cycle that the days became significantly darker. During February, the darkness continues, but our position on the Earth begins moving back towards the light.
So thinking more positively, February is actually the month when things begin to change – the days begin to lengthen, mornings and evenings are a little lighter, the frost is crisper and the bulbs begin sending their shoots up to break through the soil. If we are lucky, we might even get to see a bud or two.
In the Church calendar, February begins with the feast of Candlemas, otherwise known as ‘the Presentation of Christ in the Temple’. At the Candlemas service, a representative sample of the candles we will use to give us light throughout the year will be blessed, reminding us that ‘the light shines in the darkness’. The Gospel narrative set for Candlemas carries a significant theme of change. If Mary and Joseph were in any doubt about the kind of change that their new son might bring into their lives, all uncertainty is banished when they take Jesus for purification at the Temple and the priest Simeon says; ‘this child is destined for the rising and falling of many. And a sword will pierce your own soul too’. Christ, the light of the world, the very essence of God, brings his light to the darkest places; dark places within us and within our world, but we should not expect the darkness to give up without a fight.
So, whether we feel as though the glass is half empty or half full is, I guess, all dependent upon our own individual perspective. But either way, February is a month to prepare for the changes to come. Changes born with the coming of the light. Changes that might just bring us into a new way of looking at ourselves and the world.
There are no certainties in life, except the sureness of God. Whilst the world changes and moves around us, God, like the sun, is always stable and unchanging. If we can put our trust in Him, then all the changes of the world will not touch us, because we will be rooted in an eternal stability that is only found in Him.
So may you be blessed with the surety and strength of Mary, Joseph, the Holy Family, the Apostles and all the Saints in glory,