Greetings WUUC Community,

Every year on February 2, Punxsutawney Phil (a groundhog) comes out of his borrow in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. If he sees his shadow, it means six more weeks of winter. (This year, Phil did see his shadow, so we can expect six more weeks of winter.)

This silly tradition of having a celebrity groundhog determine the length of the season is, well, silly. But it has a special place in my heart. As a kid, I would watch the movie Goundhog Day over and over again. I’ve lost track of how many times I have seen it. In the movie, Bill Murray plays a news reporter covering Punxsutawney Phil’s appearance and prediction for winter one year. But when he goes to bed, he wakes up and it’s the same day (Groundhog Day) over and over again. (As a kid, I didn’t realize the irony at the time of repeatedly watching a movie that was about repeating). I found it so fascinating to see the same person live the same day over and over again, but in so many ways. Each time he repeats the day, he makes different choices, different decisions. He may have felt trapped, but I found the implausible situation intriguing.

What would you do differently if you had a do-over? What decisions would you go back and change if you had the option to try again?

We may not get do-overs the way Bill Murray’s character does in the movie, but I think we get the opportunity to reflect on the decisions we’ve made, consider the outcome of our decisions, and choose whether we want to continue doing things the way we have been, or whether we want to change, grow, and try something new.

We can do this as individuals; and we can also do this collectively, as a community. If there are some congregational dynamics that we find difficult, uncomfortable, and frustrating, then let’s try a new way of relating to one another. If trying to get people to agree with our own opinions is leading to people digging their heels in and nobody budging, let’s try getting curious instead. Let’s find out where others are coming from before we are so quick to share what we believe/think/feel. We all want to be heard. We all want to be understood. We all want to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance. And if shouting our opinions from the rooftops (or on email lists) isn’t getting us these things, then let’s try a different approach. Let’s seek first to understand, then to be understood.

The most memorable thing (to me, anyway) that Mónica Guzmán said in the Fireside Chat on January 29, was that being curious about others made her a better advocate for her own position. I think we often fear that if we’re not passionately advocating for our opinions (and quickly shutting down contradictory opinions as wrong), then we are not being a good activist/advocate for our values. But what Mónica expressed was just the opposite. Being curious with people first made them more open and receptive to her ideas when she came around to sharing them.

On this Groundhog Day, may this silly tradition point us to a way out of the repeat cycle, and may we find new ways of being together that help us be heard, understood, and feel a sense of belonging and acceptance.

Peace and Blessings,