Things to love about February: 1) it is short and 2) the following month holds the dawn of spring.
But there’s more, even in the midst of these ongoing frigid temps. There is still the hope of a huge, pulverizing snow, which forces the suspension of all activity. (I realize this is not on the positive side of the ledger for some, but the inner child still pleads for a snow day!) And then there is Valentine’s Day. Again, maybe not everyone’s favorite day. And then there are the fires in the fireplace. Who doesn’t love fires?
What I really love about February, however, is the way its spare beauty points to God. Spring is bursting, summer is lush, autumn is burnished. Their beauties announce themselves, obviously. February’s beauty is a shy beauty – a demure month. What other time do you notice the skeletal branches against the flat sky? What other time does the cardinal pop so brilliantly against the snowy hedge? What other time do you so carefully observe the slowly lengthening days?
When eyes are not overwhelmed with stimuli, they sometimes see deeply through the spare offerings. Is there a deeper beauty, a beauty below (or above, or within, or around) the beauty? St. Augustine thought so. In his famous passage, “What do I love when I love my God”, he says,
“It is not physical beauty nor temporal glory nor the brightness of light dear to earthly eyes, nor the sweet melodies of all kinds of songs, or the gentle odor of flowers, and ointments and perfumes, nor manna or honey, nor limbs welcoming the embraces of the flesh; it is not these I love when I love my God. Yet there is a light I love, and a food, and a kind of embrace when I love my God – a light, voice, odor, food, embrace of my innerness, where my soul is floodlit by light which space cannot contain, where there is sound that time cannot seize, where there is a perfume which no breeze disperses, where there is a taste for food no amount of eating can lessen, and where there is a bond of union that no satiety can part. That is what I love when I love my God.”