February is a tough, dark month in Missouri. There isn't much to look forward to in February. It could still be ridiculously cold, icy, and snowy. The beginning of March doesn't offer much of a contrast. It, too, can be ridiculously cold, icy, and snowy.
Beyond that, February is a month when things get piled on. Students are mid-way through the semester, two-thirds into the school year. Teachers give large comprehensive assignments in February. The schedule is full with basketball and cheerleading and club sports and you-name-it-miscellanea.
Optimism runs thin in February because the end is not yet in sight. The close of the school year is still an ambiguously looming thing not yet realized. The coming of spring is unimaginable. The only holidays celebrate dead presidents and, for the adolescent and others, an unattainable "love" factor.
Yesterday, I gathered with a group of 8th graders and two of youth ministry moms. We had planned an afternoon of hot cocoa, warm cookies, and rest for our youth group. I wanted to encourage their hearts to not cool in the easily chilled environment. I think our goal was met.
Our youth room is not exactly a cozy place. It is big with flexible space, but it isn't cozy. Cozy has to be brought to the room. We brought floor lamps and candles and blankets and a fake fireplace (a television hooked up to a laptop with the fake fireplace screen saver and a nearby space heater!). We played quiet soothing music and made chocolate chip cookies in the oven. We made hot chocolate with all of the toppings and hung out with each other for the first thirty minutes with absolutely no agenda or games or anything to do except be together.
We talked about Pentecost and the fire of the Holy Spirit. We read Romans chapter 8 and explored the work of the Holy Spirit. Youth spent a good deal of time silently pondering a verse in Romans 8 that was comforting to them. We shared our thoughts, we sang a few songs, we prayed together for each other.
As the youth were pondering their verse, the room was silent, but I could sense a loud whirring in the room. It wasn't the whir of an idling computer, but of their prayers. It wasn't audible, but I could hear it. It loudly proclaimed the work of the Spirit.
That whir is making February bearable.