The rent was cheap, but the freedom felt rich.
I lived with three friends the summer when I turned 21. Each of us worked a job during the day and returned each evening to our cheap, run-down rental. I bought large bottles of cranberry juice on our weekly grocery trips. I had always liked cranberry juice, and it tasted so much better when I bought it myself.
After recounting tales of the day, we would bop in a DVD of a season of the popular TV show Friends. This wind-down evening time transported us to Central Perk from our two-story, paint-chipped house. We weren’t as well off, but we were living the friendship life of Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Monica, Chandler and Joey.
|Photo courtesy of Amanda Goracke.|
All of these memories came flooding back when I recently learned of a Friends TV show reunion while trolling Facebook. That summer swept through me; I could almost taste the cranberry juice. But as I scrolled through the online article, I realized that Chandler, one of the key characters in the show, would not participate.
“Are you kidding me, Chandler?”
I found myself feeling somehow deeply sad at his absence, then felt silly for caring so much about something so silly. “The beautiful and terrible thing about our lives is that nothing remains the same.” Liz Gilbert said these words in a recent podcast, and they seem to sum up the nostalgia I was feeling. Why couldn’t everyone be at the reunion? Why couldn’t things just stay the same? I realize that college summer was probably not as idyllic as I remember it (but let’s be honest, it was pretty sweet.) No matter how hard we try to hold onto life or make it how it “used to be,” nothing stays the same. Change is guaranteed.
And, life happens in the changes.
When we feel nostalgia, I think we’re hungry for past times of community and freedom. Those spaces where we were together and apart all at once. God is, was, and will be with us like that in the dance of the trinity. Loving us, holding us close, and also watching as we freely embody God’s hands and feet, making our own choices. God was in the feeling of community in my house that summer. God is in my life today as I troll Facebook. God is deeper than nostalgia, wider than any change that comes our way, and truer than any planned or feared future. God in all things.
In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. (John 1:1-4)
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