Remembering a Friend on Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is one of the festivals of the solar year, falling approximately midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.  Although Groundhog Day is not one of the official celebrations of the Christian liturgical year, its position in the solar calendar is probably not entirely coincidental, a suspicion strengthened by the occurrence of other, more overtly religious, celebrations – like the Hindu carnivalesque festival of Holi, or Mardi Gras – in reasonably close calendrical proximity.  Normally, I like to observe Groundhog Day by reflecting on the cultivation of character and the transformation of the world.  By watching Groundhog Day [admittedly, hardly feminist, but arguably redeemable, and certainly profoundly theological].  Again . . .This year, however, more public and less cheerful events will be taking precedence over my time-honored private practice.

One of the unique and unforgettable saints of God, Nell Moses, died January 30, 2008; her memorial service will be held February 2, 1:00 p.m., at the Corydon, Indiana, Presbyterian Church.  Those who knew Nell know that she was an exuberant, enthusiastic embodiment of the profound truth that the fruits of the Spirit are, first and foremost, love and joy.  Besides being a person of human relationships – sister, wife, mother, grandmother, mentor and friend – she was a ministerial hugger of reluctant Presbyterians, a devoted deacon, a determinedly free-thinking student of Scripture, a champion of spirited and special children and egger-on of dissidents, a demander of justice, a welcome and welcoming pew partner, and a superb Scrabble player.  Her presence has been missed in recent years, as her outings grew fewer and fewer due to illness; her life will be missed in the months and years to come; her spirit will be remembered.

In years to come, I do not doubt, my observance of Groundhog Day will always also be a celebration of the memory of this remarkable person.  I am confident that the woman who proposed beginning a church mission statement with the words “the desire of our hearts . . .” would wholeheartedly approve of taking time to reflect on the relationship between the cultivation of character and the transformation of the world.  And that, if that reflection could include laughing out loud, she would like it even better.

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About HAT

Heather Thiessen (HAT) is a happily married Bible-reading, Presbyterian Church Sunday School teaching and choir singing, small fuel efficient car driving, still pretty much 2nd wave feminist and generally out lesbian white Hoosier mom. (No states are all one color.) She has spent a lot of time in school. From time to time she teaches religious studies to students at a small liberal arts college in Louisville, Kentucky.

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