"There's no way he could have seen his shadow."
"I know. It's been cloudy like this all day."
"You know, he's up in Pennsylvania somewhere, though, don't you? The weather could be different up there, you know."
"I heard there's another groundhog down here that they bring out for the southern states."
"Well, I think it's all in the Lord's hands. He'll decide whether or not we have 6 more weeks of winter."
Welcome to the Costco in North Georgia, where in addition to get great buys on bulk items, people debate the merits of a groundhog-based weather prediction with more seriousness and depth than, perhaps, other areas are able to rustle up. It's the first time, in my experience, that the little rodent has had to go toe-to-toe with the Big Guy Upstairs for supremacy in the futures markets.
Had I not finished checking out and headed for the exit, I'm sure that I'd have heard that the groundhog is satanic.
We had snow today, the first and only snow of this year, though it's threatened a few times and we've had a light sheet of ice on the vehicles a week or so ago. But, today, on Groundhog Day, people around here are definitely in a wintry frame of mind with the skies overcast and, though the original snow all melted within 30 minutes, flurries continuing to come down, even as the temperature nears 40 degrees. There was more in the mountains, and there was some concern that some events would be cancelled.
Tennessee is a state where legislation was introduced this month that would require school teachers or counselors to inform parents if a child had a discussion with them about being gay. Once, at our school, we had a boy who "came out of the closet," at least until his parents hired a Christian counselor and made him go back into that closet.
The Lord has interceded in other ways around here--once person I know went to work at a bank because of Him, another was called to another school in another city to a higher-paying job, that is, until things didn't go as well as planned and The Lord called him back.
There are 134 minutes left in February 2, 2013, and I realize that I have no idea whether or not Punxatawney Phil, the world's most famous groundhog, has seen his shadow or not. It doesn't seem to have mattered much; I took my dog for a walk just now and the sky was clearing and the night was cold. The first flowers are bowed to the cold, unsure whether they will burst into yellow or freeze and wither.
Other coldnesses here, too. We are a state that skews toward guns, toward prescription drug use.
A recent study revealed that our particular city is the 3rd most Bible-minded city in the entire United States. Which is to suggest that our citizens are far more versed in the Bible than most, that we have more Christian ministries and Christian-based schools than cities of a similar size.
On Monday night, my wife spent the night at her church with a couple of homeless families, passing the long night with them in a place inconvenient for her, a place of safety, comfort, and food for them. In the morning, she went to her job; they went to jobs and colleges that may give them hope, but not yet enough for them or their children to live on. She told some friends about it at another church and they had never heard of such a thing, couldn't believe her "sacrifice."
Groundhog Day is a day that reminds us that things just don't add up. We exist amongst a blend of tradition, superstition, fear, intolerance, misguidedness, cold, isolation, where gestures are meaningful but perhaps not impactful, where even in the smallest ways, like looking for a way out of the darkness and the cold, we grasp at whatever theory seems to make the most sense at the moment, where we may be well-read spiritually, but where that may or may not translate into anything at all.