In 1993, Harry Ramis released a movie called Groundhog Day. Primarily a comedic vehicle for Bill Murray and Andie McDowell, the movie chronicles the journey of a self-centered goofball as he lives the same day (Groundhog Day) over, and over, and over…. you get the idea. He falls in love, uses his repeats to get to know the woman of his dreams and practice being a human being, etc. Funny, heart-warming, not too complicated, and cute.
Groundhog Day is a classic, and even if you haven’t seen it, you’ve probably seen a thousand references to it in other media, especially if you log into Facebook or Instagram on the day itself. While I absolutely loved the movie, I grew a little weary of the Groundhog Day memes in 2020. As people began isolating at home, their lives became mundane, predictable, and indistinguishable from one another. Now, I know that for many people, 2020 was full of change and grief and fear. But for those whose primary experience of the year was staying home alone, Groundhog Day became an analogy for their lives.
In case you haven’t seen the movie (or watched the news on the day itself), Punxsutawney Phil is the name of the groundhog that “foretells the weather” for the six weeks following Groundhog Day. When I was little, the groundhog of Groundhog Day (the holiday, not the movie) was similar in my mind to the jolly ole’ white-haired man who brought presents on Christmas, the rabbit who laid chocolate eggs on Easter, or the fairy whose land had a shortage of teeth. I really did think that there was this magical rodent who could see the future and tell us the weather for the coming month and a half.
Later, as my childhood illusions began to fade, I started to think, “Oh, it’s the meteorologists who are doing the predicting; the groundhog is just a fun little tradition.” Now, I realize that no meteorologist can predict six weeks in advance, and I literally have no idea what is going on with Groundhog Day.
What I do know is that the past year has been something of a hibernation. In a way, we’ve been living off the stores we had built up before COVID started. In social isolation, we maintained the strongest friendships we’d had the year before – at least the ones who would talk to us over text or Zoom – but we didn’t necessarily go out and make new friends. With hospitals overwhelmed, we postponed surgeries, chose alternative therapies, and relied on telehealth for everything from annual physicals to psychological counseling. We took advantage of delivery or pick-up services for more things than ever – groceries, takeout dinners, office supplies… well, just about everything. It’s an introvert’s dream and a social butterfly’s worst nightmare.
Right now, I feel like we’re all a little like Punxsutawney Phil peeking his head out on Groundhog Day. The time for hibernation is over, but we’re a little uncertain about whether to emerge from our burrows or go back and hide for another six weeks. The extroverts are literally (yes literally – I’ve seen it live and in person) jumping for joy. Even my introverted little heart is a bit excited about the prospect of getting to go out again.
On the 7th, my husband and I went to church in person for the first time in a year. Two days ago, we went to Best Buy to look at some things, today, I went over to Starbucks. That’s more than I’ve been out of the house (especially driving somewhere) than I have for months on end. I can feel it though – the pull of the outside world saying, “Come out! Come out!”
If you had asked me two months ago whether I would likely show up to church in person sometime in March, I’d have laughed at you. “I’m not going anywhere.” Now, I feel like the long winter – the long hibernation – is ending. I know that there are still months and months before herd immunity is built up enough to make socializing 99% safe. I know that there will be setbacks. I know that our culture has changed in many lasting and dramatic ways. But with a mask on and hand sanitizer applied, and with herd immunity increasing every day, I’m starting to feel safer again. It feels good to see my friends in person. It’s energizing to worship the Lord in community. Just like Bill Murray at the end of Groundhog Day, it’s finally time to break up the endless repetition and truly wake to a new day.
If you’ve been out of the loop, here’s the big announcement: 5twelve City Church is now meeting at a new location – the WeWork on Barton Springs. This new venue has ample space for you and your family to join us on Sunday. The acoustics are great, the seating is comfy, and above all, the fellowship with our church family and the Lord is like a warm spring day. Ready to come out of your burrow and join us? Sign up today!
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