by Dale Reeves
Yesterday we turned our eyes toward the little town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to see if Phil would see his shadow. According to tradition, if the groundhog comes out of its hole on this day and sees its shadow, it gets scared and runs back into its burrow, predicting six more weeks of winter weather. If it doesn’t see its shadow, then he is predicting an early spring that year. Why not believe his prognostication? It seems like a rodent meteorologist has as good a chance of predicting the weather around here as our weather guys in the midwest!
According to history.com, the first time Groundhog Day was celebrated in Gobbler’s Knob was way back on February 2, 1887. Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas, when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be. Germans added the concept of selecting an animal—the hedgehog—as a means of predicting weather. German folks who settled in Pennsylvania continued the tradition, although they changed from hedgehogs to groundhogs, because these animals were in abundance in the Keystone State.
In 1887, a newspaper editor belonging to a group of groundhog hunters known as the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club declared that Phil, the Punxsutawney groundhog, was America’s only true weather-forecasting groundhog. This town’s current population is 5,725 people (not counting Phil and his wife Phyllis). Every year, tens of thousands of people converge on Gobbler’s Knob for a three-day celebration featuring all kinds of activities and entertainment—and of course to witness Phil’s prediction. Want to know what he predicted this year? Here you go:
Well, you know what that means.
Caught in Time
I own a VHS copy of the movie Groundhog Day, released in 1993, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. Bill Murray plays the role of Phil Collins, a narcissistic, cynical, self-centered weatherman who gets caught in a time loop. He goes on location to the town of Punxsutawney to film a report about the groundhog celebration, and he finds himself reliving the same day over and over again. Each day that he is stuck in the snow in this small town becomes increasingly more frustrating for him, and he is desperate to find a way out—so he decides he may as well try to end his life. He attempts to take his life in several ways.
He tells his love interest in the movie, “I’m a god. Not The God, I don’t think. . . . I have been stabbed, shot, poisoned, frozen, hung, electrocuted, and burned. . . . I am an immortal.” Of course, every time Phil tried to kill himself, he woke up the next morning on February 2 at 6:00 am in his bed at The Cherry Street Inn, listening to Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” on the clock radio.
In his book, Nietzsche: The God of Groundhog Day, author Michael Faust observes:
“Like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, we have to escape from the eternal recurrence of our day-to-day lives. We have to try new things, learn new things, become people of wide interest rather than narrow focus. We should test our limits, not let limits define us. When a new day comes, we should feel as grateful as Bill Murray, the most overjoyed man on earth when he was able to break out of the prison of repetition.”
A New Day Every Day
What if God were to have us relive every day as Bill Murray’s character did in Groundhog Day, until we got it perfectly right? I’m sure that you, like me, might wish to relive a few of your days gone by and erase some regrets you have, some words you’ve spoken, and some mistakes you’ve made. Other days, not so much. Of course, this is impossible. As the rock band P.O.D. observes in their song, “Alive”:
“Every day is a new day, I’m thankful for every breath I take. I won’t take it for granted, so I learn from my mistakes. . . . I feel so alive!”
You ever experience one of those seasons when it feels like the hits just keep on coming, bad things keep happening to you, and it feels like you are living the same bad dream over and over? Some days and some seasons of our lives feel like that. When that happens, you might be tempted to take a page from Punxsutawney Phil and go into hibernation. But eventually you need to emerge, just as a male groundhog surfaces from its burrow looking for a mate.
Pastor and counselor Brad Brandt has observed, “The book of Lamentations is sort of like a dark and dreary oil base painting. The canvas is filled with blacks and dark grays and deep purples. . . . Jeremiah expresses in vivid, horrid detail the pain and agony of God’s people experiencing God’s judgment. But in the middle of chapter 3 we see a small but unavoidable pool of brilliant color and light. . . . it does give us a way out of the darkness.”
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22, 23, ESV).
Today would you join me in thanking God that you don’t have to relive all your past mistakes, you don’t have to be caught in a time warp of perpetual hopelessness, but rather you can face whatever today brings with real hope because of your relationship with THE God of the universe, and the Savior of your soul?!
Want a great way to begin your day today? Click here:
“Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine with 10,000 beside.
Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness, morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided, great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.”