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Unearthing Hope in February

Guest Blog by Kaeley McEvoy

two hands holding a scoop of dirt

In the Mid-Atlantic where I live, February is a mess of holy contradiction. One week I find myself walking among the fallen leaves of autumn still resting on the earth and the next I watch snow fall and thaw.

Purple crocus blooms
Spring Flowers in February

Winter is still here, yet spring beckons. There’s a liminality in this time of year where sprouting crocus signal early signs of spring, only to be held back by a cold snap requiring bundled hats and gloves. 

In this season of liminality, I find myself wading in the muck of the mud. For me, there’s an intangible sense of hope and worry present. Yes, the days are getting longer, but we are still met with much darkness. The trees have dropped their leaves, and although I know they will, I still wonder if the buds will work up the courage to burst when spring arrives. 

Our world echoes this dance of hope and worry; we see suffering and need alongside blessing and abundance. Wars continue to rage even as new life brings joy and promise. These days, I find myself teetering between optimism and pessimism, asking, “February, what will you bring me today?” 

In the mess of contradiction that is February, I look to the soil and find reassurance. 

Dried leaves and sticks with some grass poking through
Signs of Spring in Feburary’s Winter

Although the ground may look dormant, it is full of life. In fact, there are more microscopic organisms in one teaspoon of healthy soil than there are people on the planet! There are bacteria, amoebas, and fungi. There are nematodes, tardigrades and earthworms. Even in winter, there is life in the soil. There is power in the dirt.

On the surface we may see death, but under the microscope we see life. 

In the Christian tradition, Ash Wednesday is often acknowledged by imposing ashes on the forehead to symbolize the circle of life and death. “From dust you come/From dust you shall return,” the liturgy often reads. This year, as I receive my ashes, I’ll be thinking about the dirt. I’ll be thinking about the steadfastness of the soil that nourishes life even in winter's coldest days. I may even change my prayer a bit: “From dirt I come/From dirt I shall return.”

February is a month that challenges our concept of space and time. We’re in between winter and spring. We’re freezing and thawing. This month, Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are full of both death and life. We come from the dirt, and we will return to it. 

While it’s hard to hold these truths in our bodies, it’s easy to observe them in nature. Starting next Monday, February 19th, join the Center for Spirituality and Nature for Monday Meditations: Wild Wisdom from Winter to Spring. During these virtual sessions, we’ll practice this holy dance of contradiction together and hold stillness in this season of transition. 

In February, we remember that the muck is full of magic—let’s look for it together.


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About the Author:

Rev. Kaeley McEvoy is a preacher, writer, and community organizer living in Washington, DC. She studied Eco-Theology at Union Theological Seminary and her favorite flowers are lilacs. You can find her at

Photo Credits:

Main Photo by Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash

Additional Photos by Kaeley McEvoy

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