February 6, 2022
From LifeWays’ founder, Cynthia Aldinger:
Once again dear Puxatawney Phil has seen his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter. Most of us have figured out by now that we almost always have six more weeks of winter regardless of his experience, but he has managed to weave his way into the fabric of our culture and offer a lighthearted moment to balance the lamentation some may feel in the deep cold.
Admittedly one of my favorite movies is Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. To me it is a story of redemption as we watch this curmudgeon character live through seemingly endless days of wallowing in his own shadow. Does this feel familiar? Like the groundhog, when we come face to face with our shadow, don’t we sort of want to curl up and go to sleep? It is not usually a welcome encounter, yet perhaps it is essential. In the case of Murray’s character, it is only after many days of the dark night of the soul engendered by extreme self-indulgence and self-pity that he turns the corner toward “interest in others” and the development of caring. We might say, he turned from the darkness toward the light.
Which brings me to another noteworthy festival of February 2 called Candlemas. You can find various thoughts about this ancient festival. This one dates it back to Ancient Rome:
The Feast celebrated on February 2 dates back to Ancient Rome, when Lupercalia was observed precisely in February, the month of purification, in honour of Lupercus who protected the herds from wolves. Other traditions refer to the she-wolf that suckled the twins Romulus and Remus. Thus thrived its legends and feasts. Others affiliate Candlemas with honoring the blessing of the infant Jesus in the temple in which many candles were lit and gradually evolved to people bringing their home candles to have them blessed for the coming year.
Shadow and Light, eternal themes worthy of our interest and awareness that they each play a role in what it means to be a striving human being! We see children “play” these themes throughout childhood. These past two years, my local grandchildren have developed a community called Bunny Land in which their stuffed animals and dolls represent the full range of “being” from the rather despicable to the hero and everything in between. This ongoing story started in Spring 2020 when their school, and the world, shut down. On their sleep-over weekends, they often pack up the whole troop and build new Bunny Land experiences at our home. It is amazing to overhear the drama of it all and how the characters enter into conflict, sometime with resolution and other times with a sort of “well, that’s just who they are” attitude toward the rascally characters. Their father refers to Bunny Land as their COVID therapy as they navigate shadow and light without trepidation and, frankly, with lots of humor and giggles. Once again I am reminded that we can learn so much from the children, particularly when we allow time and space for them to explore their own interior lives and play out whatever it is that they discover.
Wishing you all the blessings of extended winter. And may we also send loving thoughts and care, and help whenever we can, to those who are suffering hardship due to winter’s sometimes unkind behavior. When the shadow feels overbearing, perhaps it can be therapeutic to dig out your seed packets and start dreaming of planting your spring garden!
Love to all,