Groundhog Day

It’s February 2nd… again.

Remember that fabulous Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell movie? Bill Murray’s character repeatedly wakes up to find he is reliving the same day over… and over… and over. It takes a while, but over the course of the movie he slowly improves day after day by loving and serving others. Only when his efforts have become perfect does he finally escape the crazy time loop. It sounds rather nightmarish to me…

You know those moments in your life when you constantly re-live  certain past events in your mind… playing them over and over? Wishing sometimes you had just responded differently? It’s painful – like a burning in your chest – knowing that your words or actions (or lack of words or actions) negatively impacted a situation. I wonder if that’s like the “fire” of purgatory? But what happens when it’s not past events, but daily turmoils, and you have to continue to carry on through what seems to be a torturous existence? You know God has led you to the desert – and it feels like He’s just forgotten about you. 40 days seem to come and go, but the burdens seem endless.  That’s when patience has to turn into perseverance.

Patience is passive waiting.  It’s a rather fine character trait, but it’s not necessarily one that gets us anywhere. Perseverance , on the other hand, is a very active word.  It requires effort, sweat, blood, and tears.

We don’t passively work our way through this world that’s filled with sin… we drag our feet through the mud, and it’s not always pretty or easy.

The Old Testament’s book of Job has become a recent favorite of mine. Discerning the purpose of suffering in our lives is an age-old mystery. There is no table of contents that we can turn to in our lives and discover how many more chapters are left. We must wade through the seemingly endless daily struggles. We must – there is no alternative. Like Job, we cannot be tempted to give in and sin. One day we’ll wake up to find the music has finally changed. Prayers are often answered in very mysterious ways. In the meantime, we trudge on.

There are ways to ease our path – through prayer and fasting and giving of ourselves when we least desire to do so. What are your favorite ways to stay close to God in times of perseverance?

I think the Sacraments are the greatest gifts God gives us. Cleansing our souls in reconciliation and receiving the Eucharist – the very BODY of Christ, the ultimate sufferer… what more could we ask for?!?

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