Miracles News

April-June, 2019

Groundhog Day Revisited

by Rev. Peggy Booth, O.M.C.

This year is the 25th anniversary of us hosting a gathering to watch the 1993 film Groundhog Day and to discuss its spiritual implications. Each year, A Course in Miracles (ACIM) is a source of many quotes pertinent to our thematic Groundhog Day discussions.

As you may know, the film’s basic storyline is that Phil (the weatherman) is stuck in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania re-living the same February 2nd Groundhog Day over and over and over until he learns to look at the world differently.

A premise of the film is that each Groundhog Day, Phil (the man) does a broadcast of the weather report based on whether Phil (the groundhog) sees his shadow which foretells six more weeks of winter.

Each year we select a different theme for our Groundhog Day deliberations. These have included:

•  I Make the Weather! Our inner and outer weather reports

•  Extending Love — Phil Chooses Again

•  Perception

•  To You or For You

•  What You Seek — You Will Find

•  Appreciate Now!

•  From Desolation to Consolation

•  Time: Past — Today — Future

•  Habitual Thinking — Recognizing Mental Ruts and Letting Them Go

•  Prayer and Our Heart’s Desire — What am I truly desiring or wishing for? For what am I praying?

In the first part of the film, we see the ego-driven, self-centered, judgmental Phil going through the motions and focused on predicting the future. At one point Phil says, “I make the weather” and another time he says “Someday, somebody is going to see me interviewing a groundhog and think I don’t have a future.”

As the Course says in Lesson 325, “What I see reflects a process in my mind, which starts with my idea of what I want. From there, the mind makes up an image of the thing the mind desires, judges valuable, and therefore seeks to find. These images are then projected outward, looked upon, esteemed as real and guarded as one’s own. From insane wishes comes an insane world. From judgment comes a world condemned.” (W-pII.325.1:1-5)

As the same day starts repeating itself, Phil tries to manipulate his situation. He says, “What if there were no tomorrow? … We could do whatever we want.” And, later he says, “You can’t plan a day like this.  Well, you can, but it takes an awful lot of work.”

As Lesson 135 in the Course says “The mind engaged in planning for itself is occupied in setting up control of future happenings. It does not think it will be provided for, unless it makes its own provisions. Time becomes a future emphasis, to be controlled by learning and experience obtained from past events and previous beliefs.” (W-pI.135.15:1-4)

However, as Phil’s attempts at planning and control fail, he becomes bitter and morose and feels he is living in perpetual misery. In his weather report, Phil says “It’s cold out there today. It’s cold out there every day. If you want a prediction about the weather, you’re asking the wrong Phil. I’ll give you a weather prediction: It’s going to be cold and it’s going to be gray, and it’s going to last the rest of your life.”

These are themes the Course addresses again and again. “Time can release as well as imprison, depending on whose interpretation you use.” (T-13.VI.4:1)

“For time is cruel in the ego’s hands …” (T-17.III.4:2) 

“Guilt feelings are the preservers of time. They induce fears of retaliation or abandonment, and thus ensure a future will be like the past.” (T-5.VI.2:1-2) 

“Listen to what the ego says, and see what it directs you see, and it is sure that you will see yourself as tiny, vulnerable, and afraid. You will experience depression, a sense of worthlessness, and feelings of impermanence and unreality. You will believe that you are helpless prey to forces far beyond your control, and far more powerful than you are.(T-21.V.2:3-5) “Until you choose Heaven, you are in hell and misery.” (T-22.II.7:8)

Phil becomes so desperate that he tries to kill himself over and over, but nothing works and he is like the walking dead. 

As the Course says in Lesson 189, “If hatred finds a place within your heart, you will perceive a fearful world, held cruelly in death’s sharp-pointed, bony fingers.” (W-pI.189.5:4)

And, in the text, “Remember, then, that whenever you look without and react unfavorably to what you see, you have judged yourself unworthy and have condemned yourself to death.” (T-12.VII.13:1)

Finally, in the film, Phil learns to practice forgiveness and “look on all things with love, appreciation and open-mindedness.” (ACIM W-pI.29.3:1)

The world transforms in his eyes, he starts loving himself and everyone around him, and he truly enjoys living Groundhog Day over and over.

As the Course says in Lesson 52, “When I have forgiven myself and remembered Who I am, I will bless everyone and everything I see. There will be no past, and therefore no enemies. And I will look with love on all that I failed to see before.” (W.pI.52.2:5-7) 

Then, in his weather report, Phil expresses his change in perspective in saying, ”When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet, we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. Standing here among the people… and basking in the warmth of their hearts and hearths, I could not imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter.”

Phil is experiencing his repeating days as stated in Lesson 315 of the Course:

“Each day a thousand treasures come to me with every passing moment. I am blessed with gifts through the day, in value far beyond all things of which I can conceive. A brother smiles upon another, and my heart is gladdened. Someone speaks a word of gratitude or mercy, and my mind receives this gift and takes it as its own.” (W-pI.189.1:7;3:5;4:2-3)

We certainly enjoy each year’s viewing of the film and the insightful conversations we have with friends. This year’s 25th anniversary was a chance to gather and reflect on “the best of Groundhog Day” and again Spirit led us to learn and grow and appreciate more.

Rev. Peggy Booth is a Pathways of Light minister living in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
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