It Happens This Way …
It’s Candlemas Day: the half-way point between the December Solstice and the March Equinox. This day was important to farmers. As an old English song said, “If Candlemas be fair and bright, /Come, Winter, have another flight. / If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, /Go, Winter, and come not again.”
It’s also Groundhog Day when Punxsutawney Phil, that prophetic little forecaster, announces if winter will stay go or stay. (According to people who track such things, the critter is about as accurate as flipping a coin.)
Which leads me to one of my favorite movies of all times: Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. Murray plays Phil Collins, a cynical, narcissistic weatherman who’s sent to Pennsylvania for the fourth time to cover their February 2 event. If you Google the movie, you’ll find articles about a variety of theological and philosophical interpretations. One writer even claims Groundhog Day is “a deeply Catholic movie” (https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/08/no_author/groundhog-day-a-deeply-catholic-movie/).
Whatever the deeper meanings, the major plot line is simple: Phil is trapped in 24-hour time loop that dooms him to spend every day in the same place, seeing the same people, doing the same thing over and over again. As long as he acts the way he always has –with distain and self-importance – he wakes up on February 2 to his clock radio playing Sonny and Cher’s “I’ve Got You Babe.” Time has certainly “got” him in its clutches!
Remember that old Chinese definition of insanity: doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. Although the pandemic may have intensified this kind of insanity, many of us were already trapped in repetitive loops of thinking the same unkind thoughts, engaging with the same toxic people, fighting the same unwinnable battles, complaining about the same uncontrollable things, bemoaning our lack of success or acclaim or productivity. And so it goes.
Today is the perfect day to shake up our shadows and become aware of how they’ve trapped us. Let’s light a candle and allow its warm glow to sooth the winter chill of our hearts and minds. Whatever Punxsutawney Phil prophecies today, spring is coming and, along with it, messages of rebirth and light. That’s worth celebrating.