Around this time of year when I was growing up, it was not unusual to see the large family garden behind our house and my grandparent’s house next door on fire. That fire always drew me outside to watch. My grandfather had set the brush and leftover dead plants from the previous year on fire. It was a controlled fire, and before long the entire half-acre garden plot would be black and charred. I learned early that this was part of preparing the garden for spring.
The name of our month of February is comes from the Latin word februum, a purgation, a purification. The ancient Roman empire began as a small farming village. This time of the year was the time for burning off fields, shearing sheep, sharpening tools, and holding rituals of fertility for the coming spring and planting season.
The function of a ready room is, perhaps, rooted more deeply in an ancient practice than we know. Its function transcends culture and geography to express the deep human need and desire to prepare ourselves, the lands we work with, and other aspects of our lives for new life, new creativity, and new works of many kinds.
This time of the year, even with cold and frozen landscapes, perhaps even because of them, calls us to a time of preparation. If we use the agrarian metaphor, what things are leftover dead stuff in our lives that needs to be burned off before we proceed? What tools do we need to get ready, prepare, sharpen, and reacquaint ourselves with before we start our new works? And while it may not seem agrarian to us in metaphor, the ancients would certainly have considered ritual to be part of the preparation for spring, for planting and for new growth. What would your personal ritual include as you prepare yourself for the new works that springtime and sunshine will call forth in you?
Now is the season of readying ourselves for our next most fruitful self.