Thoughts and assorted philosophical musing about: Family, Friends, Fun, Hobbies, & other everyday things.
My continuing efforts to serve as a First Sergeant (Top) in the Army of God.
My latest interest is in Letterboxing.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Winter and Winter and Winter and Winter

This morning I took Donna in to her Eye Doctor's office for a followup on the surgery she had yesterday morning. In a repeat of when she had the first eye worked on ten days earlier, we were forced to slip and slide our way over during another of the most sever snow storms to hit our region in years. The checkup went well and everything seems to be OK.

This year winter storms have followed winter storms. It seems that we are reliving these episodes of snow over and over and over again. I hope we are not faced with the six more weeks of winter which is "forecast" when the ground hog sees it's shadow. At any rate these seemingly endless storms really make the repeating theme of the Groundhog Day movie seem appropriate.

The Groundhog day movie has become a neoclassic. People watch this 1993 film over again every year. Some just for the fun of it or because of it's over and over theme. But for others it is a reminder that people can change for the better.

To summarize the plot Phil, an obnoxious big-city weatherman is sent with his attractive, but distant producer Rita to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania for Groundhog's Day. The action really starts when Phil wakes up the next day to discover that it is Groundhog Day all over again. Incredulously, he relives most of the same events he went through the day before, then falls into bed exhausted and confused. The next day is Groundhog Day again. And so is the next day. Phil catches on and begins acting out his frustrations and using people, knowing he'll have no consequences. But, eventually boredom and Phil's failure to make any headway with Rita convince him that "all is vanity."

Finally, two factors change Phil's attitudes. First, he learns compassion through an old vagrant who dies in the street late at night, moving Phil to try to save him from that fate. But the deepest change comes as Phil falls into real love for Rita. Rita awakes every day disliking the Phil she knew yesterday. While he realizes a little more every day just what Rita could mean to him if only he deserved her.

Phil has already pretended to change. But when he realizes he really needs to change he does. He learns to play piano. He reads good books. He even starts becoming kind to other people. By the movie's end, compassion and love have motivated Phil to become the person that he should have been all along. Apparently, all he needed was a little encouragement and an infinite number of tries to get it right. Too bad we don't get the same number of "redoes" in life. Or do we? Couldn't every day be a bit of a "redo" if we wanted it to be?

One aspect of the movie theme is that if you just work on becoming a better person one day at a time, you eventually will become a better person. This concept of "incremental self-improvement" fits in with the traditional themes of the holiday. All of February 2nd's other themes look forward. Candlemas ends the liturgical Christmas season and looks toward the Easter season. Emerging wildlife, fresh-plowed fields, pregnant livestock, and even spring cleaning celebrate spring's "rebirth."

Here I offer some thoughts on applying the idea of personal renewal.

What about taking one part of your life that could stand improvement and working on that, a little bit every day for a year? Instead of making a list of New Years' resolutions you can't keep, using a metaphor that is appropriate for the feast day, light One candle. You are lighting one candle at a time, and not trying to keep a whole candelabra going until you're ready for it. Next year you add another candle, and so on. Maybe each day you could do one unsolicited nice thing for a family member. Or learn one new word in French, or read one chapter of the Bible, or do one physical exercise, or write one line of a poem, or send one note of encouragement to a friend, or say one kind word to one stranger.

You May Need Help for the Big Stuff. I do, in fact, it's only through the grace of God that I make any appearance at all of progress. But that doesn't let me off the hook of striving to become a wiser, kinder person. As Saint Peter wrote: . . . make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. Another way of summing it up might be: If it's too hard to muster up compassion, start with kindness. If it's too hard to muster up kindness, start with courtesy, which you can control, if you've half a mind to.

What areas of your life could stand a little self-improvement? Could you learn a new skill, or share a skill with someone else? Would it hurt you to turn off the television and pick up a good book? Will the world really be a better place if you hold the door open for strangers, help your wife with the dishes, replace some of your television time with some good reading, and learn to play the harmonica? Of course, you already know the answer.

If nothing else, becoming a better, and a better-rounded person will give the people you love a fighting chance of loving you back. No, this isn't a "stairway to Heaven." But it is a way to make life on earth a little better for those around you and eventually for yourself too. Choose this year's candle carefully, prayerfully. God grant you and your loved ones grace and a spirit of generosity and service this season.

On a much lighter note, you may have noticed that one of my favorite subjects is food. Yep, I'm an foodie While looking around for a hearty and unusual chili recipe that would be good for a Superbowl/Groundhog Day/Candlemas gathering I found this one at Penzeys Spices that really sounds yummy to me.

And now I will once again put out the challenge!
My first posting "Chuck this Weather" contained the following opening lines.

Q: Who ya'gona call!

A: Snow buster Chucky!
Of course you did recognized that as a play on the "Ghostbusters" theme, Right!

So what is the connection between Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day?
I still have not received a correct response.

If you think that you know, send me email with your answer!

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