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By Laurel Pattenden

What do you get when you put a groundhog and a heart together? Well you get February!

What do you get when you put a groundhog and a heart together? A movie called Groundhog Day!

Hopefully, you have seen this movie. If you haven’t, please take the opportunity to watch it. The main character is Phil who is a very self-centered weatherman. He travels, with his crew, to a small town called Punxsutawney. His assignment is to do a newscast covering the local Groundhog Day festival. Two things you need to know about Phil.

First, he meets a young woman named Rita. She is not at all impressed with him but he is very attracted to her. Secondly, when Phil arrives in Punxsutawney he is quite a jerk.

Phil has to spend an extra night in a small inn because of a snowstorm. He wakes up only to find that it is not a new day but the same day, Groundhog Day. He relives this same day over and over leading him through different scenarios despite the consequences, because he knows that he gets to relive the day again anyways.

So, his one day, Groundhog Day, drifts by repeatedly until he realizes the emptiness of his lifestyle. Phil was living with a locked-down, shutdown heart. He knows he needs to change in order to win the heart of the young lady, Rita and to enjoy his life. Phil starts to change his behaviour. He slowly learns poetry to recite to Rita and to play the piano for her. He becomes kinder and more thoughtful of her and others. With each day, his life is brighter and he grows closer to Rita. He was committed to change. In the end Phil finds life and love with Rita.

Writing this column in the early days of the second lockdown (January 2) I feel a little like Phil. Day after day in the house. Retired life during a lock down. Everyday day starting to feel like a repeat of the day before. I can sleep in. I can stay up late. I can overeat or not, exercise or not. Each day feeling more and more the same. A tad aimless and not much drive. The same people walk by, at the same time of day, with the same dog. You would think they could at least amuse me by changing dogs! But alas, they do not. However, for me, unlike Phil, time is passing, and I do face the consequences of my choices!

We have read that this is the day the Lord hath made. We are to rejoice and be glad in it . As my lockdown days stack up my rejoicing and gladness seem to be disappearing. My commitment to having enriching days is waning. I am wasting my gifted days. Are you feeling this too? Can I learn or relearn this gladness in the coming days.  What can I slowly change in my lockdown, shutdown heart?

I am thinking February is a great month for change. It is for the groundhog. As the sun gets stronger and the days get longer the groundhog can feel the draw of this light. Just like the groundhog we too are looking for light, especially this year. So I am going to schedule some rejoicing and gladness. Unlike the groundhog we don’t have to leave our burrow to feel it or see it. It shines through our windows!

This February maybe I can learn by example from Phil. Have our mouths also become shutdown to speak sweet words? Do we need to unlock our ears to the sweet sound of poetry. It certainly is a time for sweet words. I need to hear some sweet words. How about you? My hands have stopped making beautiful things. Phil learned to make beautiful music with his hands. Are you making beautiful things? It certainly is a time for making beauty. Phil knew it was time and we know it is time, too.

I need to commit to the gift of a new day. Perhaps you feel the same way. It wasn’t easy for Phil but he did overcome being a total jerk. He committed to thoughtfulness and kindness and received joy and gladness.

We can commit to the new day. We can find joy and gladness. We can reopen our locked-down, shutdown hearts. It will not be easy because of the pandemic. However, it will be a lot easier for us than for Phil. Why? We are not starting out as total jerks!

What do you get when you put a groundhog and a heart together? A day that the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it! Have a good February.

 Laurel is retired and likes to spend her time in her art studio.