I practically collapsed into the leather booth, just barely setting down my coffee and napkins before curling up in a dramatic ball on one side of the table. Hannah, the much more composed-in-public friend, gently slid in across from me. This was our safe place. We were exhausted and unsure of what would happen in a half hour when we would walk out of that restaurant, but for now, we were safe.
It was a Sunday night in October at Corner Bakery. Who knew those nights would turn into a weekly haven, a break from the demands and pressures of people and leadership? For six weeks straight we had the best job ever, we got to hang out with 59 college girls, most of them brand new to Mississippi College, most of them freshmen, most with eyes and ears like sponges taking in everything around them. It was a big responsibility. We felt the weight of this leadership everyday. It was a beautiful role, but it was hard. We certainly couldn't do it on our own. That's why we had each other. That's why we prayed multiple times a day, sometimes in desperation, sometimes in quietness, sometimes in rejoicing.
We loved the job and thrived in the job, but quickly found that rest was not in the job description. Rest was something we had to trap whenever we could. It wasn't easy, but whenever we caught glimmers of its existence you better believed we snatched up all that we could. Sunday nights for us were prime for kidnapping some rest. By this point, with a week and a weekend behind us, we were selfish for it, we were starving for it, we craved it.
As we walked to the car, I reminded Hannah of the Corner Bakery rules: No talking about Rush once we get in the car.
Now this sounds great at first, and I'd love for you to believe that we are extremely self-disciplined in our rest, but in reality, we stood on opposite sides of the car talking over the roof about all the things we couldn't talk about once we got inside.
We couldn't help but laugh at ourselves afterward, and I'm glad we did.
Laughter soothed our tired brains and relaxed our too-tense muscles. It made it okay for all the billion tiny details we were holding in our minds to fly out the window for a second. It let us step back far enough to see that our little weakling selves were not alone.
Those Sunday nights in the bakery were our times to chill the pace and talk about real things and real life. We talked about issues with our families; we confessed what we were seriously praying about at the time; we hoped and giggled about the future. We remembered that we were dear friends who still needed to know each other and pursue each other. We laughed and we probably cried and we definitely were frustrated. But we were safe.
After we ate our sandwiches and coffee and almost always a muffin of some sort, we reluctantly pulled ourselves out of the booth and headed back the car, knowing it would only be a few minutes until life would happen again. But for now, we felt still. It wasn't an outpouring of emotion, but a steady peacefulness. We hadn't forgotten, we hadn't numbed ourselves, but our hearts and minds were still. We were at rest.