January and February were the last months
added to the Roman calendar,
and February was initially the last month of the calendar year
(the first month being March)
until January became the first month
and February the second.
So February was a month associated with transition!
But also with a festival of cleansing—
involving, particularly, water and washing.
So some make an association
with the natural cleansing of the seasonal rains.
Others focus more on the work of cleansing,
extending that all the way to the idea of atonement,
and the name “February” comes from the Latin word,
februa, meaning ancient purification or expiatory rituals.
There’s even a link (somewhat tenuous)
to the Latin word for fever (febris)
and the dis-ease that has to be sweated out
to restore health!
Not so much the month of a spring festival
(and thus spring cleaning)
as a getting ready for spring,
February was the month to relate the story
of Hades and Persephone—
or Pluto and Proserpine or Proserpina (in the Latin version),
of the goddess taken to the underworld for the winter,
returning to her mother, Ceres, the goddess of agriculture
in the spring.
But February is not just dedicated,
amidst death, to anticipating life,
but to wondering what to do to amidst death
to actually prepare for life—
to engage in the deliberate work of cleansing and atoning.
So, may this second month
bring you time to anticipate
the life that is yet to come—
within all that is, the time to look ahead to what will be,
to tell the stories affirming and celebrating
a tomorrow not defined solely by today.
May February extend opportunities for you to consider
what you might yourself do to bring life to death.
And so may you find yourself this month,
intentionally engaged in the work
(that you might even sweat doing!)
to bring about health and wholeness—
life and life more abundant—
living the best stories you tell.