The Friday Feeling
“Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again, and no one will take your joy from you.” – John 16:22
It was the last night of camp. Sara was sobbing in my arms. Tomorrow she would go home to her parents, who were divorcing. Everything was going to be different. Her older sister was happy about it; she hated their father. As for her older brother: the only feeling he could feel out loud was anger, and he didn’t have any patience with her sorrow.
But it was more what she was leaving than what she was going back to that upset her. “My friends back home all abandoned me when I got depressed. But here, I can be real. My new friends get me. I can’t leave!” she said in a panic.
I call it The Friday Feeling. The mingled joy and panic when we find our way into a community where a Christ-like spirit reigns, but then we have to go back into a cold and alienating world. Maybe you’ve felt it at the end of a men’s retreat, or a girlfriend getaway, or when your book group goes extra deep. Maybe you’re lucky enough to feel it almost every Sunday when worship comes to an end. We are unarrmored, and heart meets heart in mystical re-union. What was broken finds wholeness. But then the spell breaks.
I told Sara, and now I tell you: You are still every you you’ve ever been: your infant, childhood and adulting self. You are your Sunday-first-day-of-camp self, shy and broken and unable to break in, and you are your Friday self, the veteran camper with a million new best friends in mystical re-union. Once found, that grace can never be lost. One sparked, that pilot light will never go out. This is the deepest reality, “real world” be damned.
God, help me to be my Friday-at-camp self, loving and loved, certain of Christ in me and in all others, wherever I go. Amen.
Molly Baskette is Senior Minister of the First Church of Berkeley, California, and the author of the best-selling Real Good Church and Standing Naked Before God.