At one of our Chapel services late last year, I introduced the students to the comedy, Groundhog Day. Now to many of us who grew up in the early nineties, this will be a film as familiar to us as apple pie... But for those who haven’t seen it, this 1993 classic stars Bill Murray who plays the role of arrogant Pittsburgh weatherman, Phil Connors. As the film unfolds, we find Phil and his TV crew being reluctantly sent off to cover an event called ‘Groundhog Day’ in the small Pennsylvanian town of Punxsutawney. ‘Groundhog Day’ - an actual annual event still celebrated in North America, involves waiting for a ‘groundhog’ - something like an oversized hamster, to come out of hibernation, to help predict what kind of spring the country is about to be in for. It’s hardly the Met Service, but in the film everyone seems to put their faith in it – all except Phil Connors, who thinks it’s a load of ‘hokey’. In the film, however, something unusual happens, that even Phil the weatherman cannot predict... After getting snowed in Punxsutawney, Phil Connors becomes stuck in the same twenty-four hour loop every day, day in day out, come what may. Phil’s predicament poses for us though, an interesting question:
How would you respond if you found yourself facing the same thing over and over again?
And in the light of all that we’re facing, how do we respond to stuff like lockdown, when we find ourselves stuck in a situation we have no control over – much like ‘Groundhog Day’? Well, as I’ve reflected on almost a year of lockdowns, three things come to mind...
One, is the importance of taking time out to do the things that bring us energy, whether it’s going for a bike ride in our local area, taking a walk, or sharing over the phone with friends. All of this can help us, as we seek to bring energy to ourselves.
But, at times like this, it goes without saying, that it’s also important to think about bringing energy to one another.
One helpful insight that Phil Connors realises is that while we sometimes can’t change the circumstances we find ourselves in, we can reflect on our approach, and think of ways we can help those in need. For instance, who do you know who is lonely and living in lockdown at the moment? Could you be that kind and helpful voice on the end of the phone that they need - checking in on them, or an elderly neighbour?
But let’s not forget to also check in with the God who cares about us. The First letter of Peter reminds us, in chapter 5, verse 7:
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (NIV)
Rev. Gareth Walters