The groundhog's shadow -and mine

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

I like Groundhog Day. It reminds me to look for progress. Rather than look for a shadow to see whether I must endure six more weeks of winter, I take stock of how I'm doing spiritually.

Am I merely weathering winter conditions in my life, waiting for a milder tomorrow? Or am I waking each day to the good possibilities right now? Am I peeking outside myself only to retreat quickly into a den of old established ways of thinking and acting? Or am I seeing a need for self-improvement and doing something about it?

One of my favorite movies, "Groundhog Day," is a humorous reminder of the renewing and regenerating power of unselfish love. The lead character is an arrogant, self-centered, and condescending weatherman sent to cover the Groundhog Day festivities in Punxsutawney, Pa. Instead of just doing the job and returning home, Phil finds himself reliving the day over and over again. He resorts to all sorts of tactics to escape from that day, but no amount of indignation or ranting or raving is effective. He also discovers that dejection, depression, and irresponsible behavior are no means of escape either. He simply has to start loving and behaving more unselfishly.

The biblical character Job could probably have identified with Phil. I'm sure Job thought that the dark wintry times of his life would never end.

Yet, day by day he argued for his innocence and integrity. He didn't hide in a den of self-pity or blame or despair. Each day he made headway, becoming stronger and surer of God's presence and power to save, restore, regenerate, and renew. His lament eventually became a prayer for his friends. At last, the Bible says, "The Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends.... So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning" (Job 42:10, 12).

Phil, on the other hand, needed to see the error of his ways and do something about them. It took some time and extraordinary circumstances to turn him around, but it happened.

We are forced to grow despite our protests. I've had several periods of forced growth, and while the situations that caused the growth seemed neither happy, necessary, nor deserved, they certainly did not leave me where they found me. I have, in fact, been greatly blessed by them and keep emerging spiritually stronger and morally better. There have been many days when I lamented and protested like Job and felt just like Phil - stuck in the same day again and again.

Throughout these experiences I have turned to the Bible and a companion book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," written by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, for inspiration and guidance. I've discovered that God's good creation is constantly unfolding. He never created anything bad or evil.

What He made, and that includes each of us, is complete, harmonious, whole - and new every day. Any indication that we are not complete, not harmonious, not whole, that we are stagnant, or stuck in a rut of any sort, is not a spiritual fact.

I'm learning that cherishing a desire to be better and holier - and acting more loving as a result - is expressing God, the divine Principle called Love. This attitude causes progress to come into view and the stagnancy and ruts in one's thinking and life to disappear - and, finally, a new day to dawn. A day of God's making, including harmony, completeness, and happiness.

Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "Every day makes its demands upon us for higher proofs rather than professions of Christian power. These proofs consist solely in the destruction of sin, sickness, and death by the power of Spirit, as Jesus destroyed them. This is an element of progress, and progress is the law of God, whose law demands of us only what we can certainly fulfil" (page 233).

This is heartening news. Whatever the challenge, with God's help we are able to meet it, and will be blessed by it.

Behold, all things are become new.

II Corinthians 5:17

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