On February 1, you can apparently now receive a text from “Punxatawny Phil”, the weather-predicting Pennsylvania rodent who is the symbol of Groundhog Day, giving you his forecast for whether or not he will see his shadow the following day.


Who knew groundhogs were so smart? Or wise? The early German settlers of Pennsylvania, it seems. According to some accounts of the origins of Groundhog Day, those German settlers considered the groundhog so wise an animal that if it saw its shadow on February 2nd, it would certainly retreat back into its hole for six more weeks of winter.


That does seem wise – for the groundhog. But for our spiritual lives? Not so much. When it comes to our spiritual lives, it’s the exact opposite of what we most need at times…


Theologians, psychologists, and spiritual leaders refer to it as our “shadow” – our less admirable nature and inclinations. But unlike the groundhog, they tell us that the wise thing to do when we see our shadow – when it presents itself – is to stand and face it rather than run for cover.


To become as emotionally and spiritually healthy as we can, we need to acknowledge our “shadow”. We need to see it clearly, even embrace it. In being steadfastly aware and accepting of our capacity for being less than what God created and calls us to be, we open ourselves to the strength and perseverance that God promises us so that we can face our “shadow” and say, “I see you”. “I understand what you want”. “But the answer is “NO”.


At the end of this month, we will enter the sacred season of Lent together. And a part of the Lenten journey has always involved the call to willingly face our “shadow” – acknowledging our fully human inclinations toward unfaithfulness to God and God’s ways. But the rest of that part of the Lenten journey is the assurance that when we do embrace the “shadow”, God will give us what we need to stay above ground.