The classic 1993 movie Groundhog Day remains brilliant all these years later. If you haven’t seen it you have a treat in store, if you have it certainly bears rewatching at a time like this. It imagines Bill Murray as a weatherman trapped living a single day over and over again and asks the question “What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was the same, and nothing you did mattered?”
44 days into lockdown and for many of us it has started to feel like Groundhog day. Yes, we should count ourselves very lucky if we are healthy and the crisis has not affected us directly, but the sense of being stuck is not insignificant, it can leave us feeling low and without purpose, and for some lead to despair.
The reading in evening prayer asks a very interesting question. It is from Deuteronomy – and Moses speaking to the Israelites on the threshold of their new life in the promised land.
“So now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you?” It is a great question for those of us who have grown driven by the expectation or pressure of others, or believing that the thing that matters is what we want. In lockdown we might have discovered that without that external pressure subtly or explicitly imposed on, we feel stuck, and like nothing matters. But what if what matters isn’t so much what we want or others demand of us, but what God wants? There is a little insight in the sayings of the Desert Fathers, where a brother speaks of feeling overcome by apathy and overwhelmed by the repetitiveness of what needs to be done. And the Abbot’s gentle response is ‘Just do a little every day, and in time you will have cleared the whole lot ’.
I find that immensely comforting when I feel overwhelmed or uninspired. God is not like the hard taskmaster, but like the gentle abbot. What difference can I make in a world of need? God does not require me to change the world – he already has that in hand – simply to faithfully do my small part “Only to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart”.
Now being careful of giving away spoilers, the weatherman in Groundhog day does learn a profound lesson, first that he is not in control, but second that by doing a little good every day can make a real difference. In lockdown we might be need int to learn a better rhythm, letting go of the desire to be in control and instead hearing the gentle call of God over of the endless and incessant demands of our world, to do the simple things faithfully and wholeheartedly and find worth in the simple that that little by little that makes an eternal difference.
What would a better rhythm of life look like for you? Our Virtual Homegroups will be looking at that theme, and they meet this evening. For more information or to join one email firstname.lastname@example.org