“What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?” This question, asked by Bill Murray’s character, Phil Connors, in the movie Groundhog Day, is a deep one. And those of you who’ve seen the film know that Phil Connors is not a man known for his depth.
Yet many of us have had times when we’d like a “do over.” Who hasn’t said or done something that he regrets? Who hasn’t come up with a good response or comeback after the opportunity has passed?
Phil Connors gets that chance. He seems doomed to repeat Groundhog Day over and over and over. His failures to love are erased each morning when he wakes—again!—to the 6 a.m. alarm to cover the Groundhog Day festivities in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, for his television news team.
Phil is anything but happy about this rut he’s in. Yet a clean page presents an opportunity. And he eventually uses it to improve himself, to get to know the people of the town, to serve others, to become a better man.
I remember going to college and feeling like I had a fresh page on which to write. There was a freedom from expectations that those who already knew me had come to count on.
Any new start—a class, a job, a relationship, a move—is a time of a clean page. We bring the learning we gained from past experiences, but we get to begin fresh in our new undertaking.
Phil Connors was eventually transformed from a selfish man with a heart of stone to a caring man with a heart of flesh. That’s what finally broke the cycle of repeating Groundhog Days.
I’ve come to see that all my sins are rooted in selfishness—ultimately a choice of my way over God’s way. The forgiveness God offers time after time is an erasing of my sins. While we humans may forgive, it’s difficult for us to forget. When God forgives, our sins are no longer held against us, not even in memory.
Sometimes I slip back into the rut of sin and selfishness I’ve created. But God continues to offer me a fresh start, a clean page on which to write my life if I sincerely ask for forgiveness and want to do better. What a gift!
What difference does it make in your life that God forgives? What other life lessons do you find in the movie “Groundhog Day”?
See what Frank Frost has to say about the movie Groundhog Day in his “Movie Moments” column in the January 2011 issue of Every Day Catholic. The topic of the issue is “Rising From a Spiritual Rut.” Look to the free small-group guide for questions for reflection and discussion if you’re planning a movie night.
Feature photo: © Galina Dreyzina | Dreamstime.com