It’s been over ten years now since I fell in love with Friday. I had been entering this suburban sanctuary for a couple years on Sunday mornings, and then Wednesday evenings, full of questions, doubt, pain, and anger. Then, I took a short-term position filling in for an administrative assistant who was on maternity leave at church, and it happened to be during the period of Lent.
What an unfamiliar word.
I had never heard of it, let alone the traditions that typically accompanied it.
Everyone else on the staff was giving up something for Lent. It felt like I should too. So, for my first spiritual fasting experiment, I decided to give up sweets.
At this point, I was more hungry for a God that could handle the current state of my heart than I was for sugar, but I was only beginning to find him.
I started to wonder about this idea of letting go of something with an open mind toward what could come instead now that I had made some space.
To me, it was a beautiful and expectant metaphor.
I told some friends from my home church about it. I got a speech about how Lent wasn’t biblical, so I should be careful participating in any man-made tradition not prescribed in Scripture.
It wasn’t my first introduction to fear-based spirituality.
At least by this point, I was coming to understand the beauty in spiritual traditions outside my own, so I kept plotting away, undeterred.
Then, after several weeks, came Good Friday. I made my way back to that sanctuary and joined the darkness.
It was heavy.
Full of death.
It was Friday, and it was familiar.
At that time in my life, death was something I couldn’t get away from.
It was the first time I had ever understood what Friday was all about. I mean, I knew cognitively that it represented the day Jesus died. But I had never really felt the power of bringing all of my internal “Friday” to join Jesus in his.
It was like a deep, resonating, settling breath.
That Easter was like none I had ever experienced before. I had always known that Easter was about resurrection, hope, and new beginnings.
But resurrection after death is different than resurrection.
Hope after despair is different than hope.
And beginning after ending is not the same as starting from scratch.
It was all so freeing and full of life that I started to wonder why my spiritual tradition never introduced me to Good Friday growing up. My church had never even had a service.
Then I realized that in the church, it wasn’t just Good Friday that didn’t have a place. Though there were some individual exceptions for whom I will be forever grateful, I had an equally hard time getting the church at large to interact much about those internal Fridays I was experiencing either. When I talked about them, there were plenty of invitations to interact instead with resurrection, hope, and new beginnings, and not as much space for death, despair, and ending.
Good Friday taught me that there is a place for those. Like an actual stopping point in the story of God where we pitch our tent in the spiritual morgue and wait, and it’s exactly where we are supposed to be.
So, today is the death day. It’s about darkness.
And we are all talking about how Sunday is coming.
But today is the day where we learn how to be in our own Fridays and in other people’s Fridays with them.
Friday is uncomfortable and unsettling. It can make us want to usher in Sunday as a way to rescue ourselves.
Of course, we do experience Friday with knowledge of Sunday. We do not grieve as those who have no hope.
But knowledge of Sunday isn’t an excuse not to fully experience Friday.
So, let today be what it is. Bring all your despair to the Cross, sit a while at the feet of Jesus on the day of his own despair, and know that you are in it together.