On Ground Hog Day…

Tomorrow is ground hog day. It is the day we wait with bated breath to see if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow. This “holiday” according to Wikipedia, emerged out of the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog emerging from its burrow on this day sees its shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat to its den and winter will persist for six more weeks. If it does not see its shadow because of cloudiness, spring will arrive early.  Just to be clear, science has found no correlation between Phil seeing or not seeing his shadow and how long winter will last. But the superstition and celebration persist in our culture. I think this is because it is a fun break from the long cold days of winter, and it gives us something fun to look forward to as we celebrate Phil’s pending forecast. And we have no regard to whether Phil’s forecast is accurate or not.

Or…for some people, February second is a day to re-watch a classic Bill Murray movie entitled “Ground Hog Day” where Bill Murray’s character “Phil,” (can’t help but wonder about the name…is he really Punxsutawney Phil’s human counterpart?) relives February 2nd over and over and over again. It is a whole lot like this past year. Anyway….he realizes at some point that he will relive this day until he gets the day right, which means until he treats everyone he encounters with respect and dignity.

The movie makes me wonder sometimes what it would be like to go back and relive days when I was not at my best and have the opportunity to “get it right” so to speak. To be given the chance to not say the hurtful words or do the hurtful actions. I wonder if we would in those moments change our original responses or would we in the moment, being human, still say the hurtful words and do the hurtful actions. I wonder…because the thing is, we tend to let our feelings rule the day and we don’t question them. We don’t ask: Why is this situation with this person is making me feel…angry, sad, disappointed, irritated, and of course the list of emotions could go on for quite a while. I intentionally left off positive feelings because we don’t typically act badly when we are feeling them, but I imagine there are times that maybe we made choices we regret in the long run. I don’t know…I do know that feelings…our emotions can be difficult to navigate and difficult to manage. Which is why I wonder if we had the chance to relive days past that we would like to change…would we actually change them?  

Of course, we will never know because time travel is only hypothetically possible and lives in the realm of science fiction. For now, what we have is today. Which is more than enough. As I was considering Ground Hog day, I remembered something Pastor Steve said in his sermon yesterday. Yes, my mind works in wild and wacky ways. Pastor Steve mentioned C.S. Lewis’ book, “The Screwtape Letters.” It is a series of letters between a senior demon Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood who is a Junior Tempter. In one letter Screwtape tells Wormwood that he should keep his “Patient” focused on yesterday or tomorrow but never on the present or Eternity. Good advice if you want to keep someone from living their best life in Christ. The reason is that we get too caught up in worry and fear when we focus on what was and cannot be changed and what might be and have no control over. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day  has enough trouble of its own.” If you find yourself saying, I wish I had done….or What if…then you are focused too much on the past or the future. There is nothing you can do about either. But you can do something about today.

Today, you can choose to be kind no matter what the circumstances or how much you are provoked, to all those who you see today. Today, you can choose to help, as you are able, those you see today. Today, you can choose to be happy. Today, you can choose to let those in your life know you love them and care about them. Today, you can make a difference. Today. Because today is all we are given. And that is enough.

May your today be blessed and filled with opportunities to offer kindness to someone.


Pastor Beth

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Filed under Emotions, Faith, Holidays, Life insights

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