February Fill-dyke

First published February 2017

The Reverend John Chandler considers how we can refresh all aspects of our lives through prayer and reflection.

Did you know that February is the only month of the year named after the weather? In Anglo-Saxon times, the month was known as Solmonath, which translates as ‘mud-month’. We all know why! But February is named after the Roman purification rite of Februalia which was performed at this time of year and can be best described as a kind of Spring-cleaning. It took the form of a ceremonial washing of everything, because that’s what nature is famous for doing - in the month which we also know as ‘February fill-dyke’. Those people saw that the early spring rains were cleansing the earth, and preparing it for the new year’s growth.

For thousands of years, Baptism has been a form of ceremonial washing, too – in fact, long before Jesus, new members of many ancient organisations were totally immersed in water as a sign that they were washing away one area of their lives to be replaced by another. So perhaps now, more than at any other season of the year, is a good time to reflect then refresh and rebalance our lives to ensure the fruitfulness of our year to come.

How can we do that? In prayer or reflection, go through every ‘room’ of your life – family, work, faith, leisure, friendships, diary – and remind yourself of what you have. You know how often we blow the dust off something and say “I’d forgotten I had that!” – so there’ll probably be quite a few blessings in our lives we’ve forgotten about! When I find things I haven’t used for a while, I need to make the decision – do I bring it back into use, give it away or throw it away? Then what’s the last task of a good spring-clean? We often decide to re-arrange things, perhaps the furniture in the lounge, or which photographs to have on display. Do we need to rearrange our lives, so that what is most useful or most valuable to us is closest, and always in view?

As ever, a good chat with the Lord will help us decide. As one Biblical writer put it:

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse our conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22).

May you be refreshed in body, mind and spirit this month – and enjoy February without being a ‘stick in the mud’!

 


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