In Saranac Lake where I lived for many years, February was celebrated with Winter Carnival and the construction of an Ice Palace. After accumulated snow was cleared, the work of cutting blocks of ice from the frozen lake began. The local folks joined hands with inmates from a nearby prison for this spirited endeavor. Then came the building of the Palace, beautifully designed and aglow with every color of the rainbow. Often a thaw would come after its completion. Undaunted, the north country folks would be out there refashioning the palace into something wondrous to behold in time for the influx of tourists and spectators celebrating Winter Carnival.
February is a month of transitions. Frigid weather and short days begin to give way to hints of spring, that season that is yet powerless to be born. This time between the “already” of winter and the “not yet” of spring is a time for going deeper, for reflecting on what matters most to us. It is a time of darkness and light, frozenness and thaw, barrenness and fruitfulness. While the power of darkness continues to be at work in our world, we know that the Light that came into our world at Christmas is a Light that no darkness can extinguish. Both the star of Bethlehem and the candles on the early February Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, when Simeon recognizes Jesus as the Light of Revelation for all Nations, orient us toward the lighting of the Paschal candle and Proclamation of Christ Our Light at the Easter Vigil. Christ is our light and that light is in us and among us. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus passes the spreading of light on to us saying, “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
Just as the north country folks’ indomitable spirit and purpose kept them from giving up, we are called to commit ourselves wholeheartedly and steadfastly to building a world of justice, love, and peace. Might that not be like spring in the midst of winter?