It’s Groundhog Day…again. Ever see the movie? Bill Murray gets stuck in a time warp where every day is the same day–Groundhog Day. The alarm goes off and it’s still Feb. 2nd, the day in America where groundhogs check out their shadows to see whether spring is on its way…or not.

Here in the UK, the winter lockdown feels just like that. We wake up and it’s the same day all over again. We get up, drink our tea, check the weather (cold or colder), eat breakfast, sit at our computers, go exercise around the block, go back inside, sit at our computers, drink tea, think about dinner, watch the Covid update on telly, go to bed. The next day is the same. Only maybe I go to the grocery store and check out the frozen foods aisle.

Today it’s snowing, which is different. We don’t get a lot of snow here in Cambridge. There’s something cleansing about the sight of snow falling gently outside the window.

Maybe today won’t be the same cold, gray day all over again.

I have been slogging through another winter of January/February blues. Only this year, we’re in major lockdown again due to Covid variants wreaking havoc across the country. All my blues busters have been de-activated. I can’t go to a restaurant or theatre or gym or get my hair cut. I can’t get together with friends or plan when I will see my family overseas again.

So, how to beat the lockdown blues this time when the world has gone cold and silent and I am so done with Zoom!

Think snow?

All that snow coming down and no two flakes are alike, right? Each one is a different, complex pattern of the kaleidoscope.

Imagine the possibilities.

Things change. Viruses mutate. But nothing stays the same.

Life is not an endless repeat of Groundhog Day.

Sometimes life plays out like a fairy tale ballet on a grand stage. Other times it becomes contained in the smallness of isolation. Sometimes it’s just a room. An empty space.

How do you fill a locked up spirit?

Imagine twelve baskets. Each one is loosely woven, fashioned by hand to be useful, if not beautiful. They are filled with bread crusts and fish bones.

That’s what was left over from one of Jesus’ most spectacular miracles. He’d just fed five thousand people from one boy’s small lunch basket of fish and bread. His disciples just kept refilling their empty baskets from the one Jesus blessed and passed along the miracle.

It was not an ordinary day.

Afterwards, Jesus told his disciples to collect the leftovers. Twelve baskets full.

“Let nothing be wasted.” (John 6:12)

Then he sent them off in a boat into the most terrifying storm of their lives.

Where were those baskets? Probably forgotten in the soggy bottom of the boat as the waves came crashing down over them. They thought they were going down with the boat, until Jesus came walking on the water.

What have you got in your basket that is not meant to be wasted? Or forgotten when the lockdown blues hit you broadside?

Here are Ten Lockdown Blues Baskets.

1.You are a unique creation of God. There is only one of you and you are wonderfully made. You may not be who you once were or who you wish you could be, but you have value. You matter.

2. You have something to give. It may be big; it may be small. What matters is that you use it.

3. There are people who love you. They are not perfect, as you are not perfect. That is not why you love                   them in return. You love them because they are a part of your story, for better or worse. You are not alone, even though you may feel that way right now.

4. Take joy in what you can see. Everyday. My eyes are tired of seeing computer screens, but never of sunsets, watching birds fly, the faces of cats, the first flowering snowdrops, falling snow.

5. Take joy in what you can hear. I love the sound of birdsong, a cat purring, Rachmaninoff on Classic FM, the crunch of hot buttered toast and boots in the snow.

6. Laugh! Every day. Life is full of joyful absurdity. It’s a good workout of the soul. I love my husband’s merry quiet laugh and my brother’s uproarious full-steam-ahead laugh. We won’t talk about my laugh.

7. Love books. You are what you read. And re-read. Books take you all kinds of places and fill your spirit with beauty. My top winter lockdown re-read: Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. I loved this book twenty years ago and I love it even more now. A family goes in search of their fugitive son and brother across the snowy plains of America. It’s a story about freedom and miracles and great, frozen empty spaces. This one filled my basket to overflowing.

8. Walk. I need to walk close to nature, away from city apartment blocks and construction sites. I discovered such a place on the edge of town (where I am permitted to go) with an open view of sky and fields. In the frosty air, my head clears and the open spaces that surround me fill my own inner emptiness.

9. Celebrate light in the darkness. We left the Christmas tree up (not a real one, of course) because it was a comfort to still be able to have all those twinkly lights on in the early darkness of January. We changed the decorations from Christmas baubles to red hearts and white doves. Now that it’s February, it’s our Valentine tree. And Birthday tree. Yes, I have a winter birthday, can you believe it? All the more reason to celebrate–only how? Birthday candles on a chocolate cake. Light in the darkness. Perfect. Feel free to borrow my birthday. And take as many candles as you want!

10. Your special blessing. You have a “Special blessing basket” whether you feel blessed at the moment or not. God doesn’t send us out into the storm without His eye on us. He loves you and knows what you need to see you through. It may be a special person, a special gift, or just an ordinary word of affirmation that fills your heart with gladness. Think of this basket as a bouquet of beautiful flowers that never wilts. Remember it when you are low and sad, and be thankful.

So many baskets, and that’s not even twelve. But I already feel full. I hope you do, too.

“Let nothing be wasted.”

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23