On the 21st anniversary of Friday, I cannot help but contemplate on the meaning of what the weekly holiday represents to me and those around me.
“Holiday” is derived from “holy day”. In the history of spiritual practice holy days and holy nights have been an essential time when one can reflect on the gifts found in one’s life. As such they were a time when a person, who had grown out of childhood, found themselves pulled towards the holy hills to discover the true treasure hidden within them. Friday, at 21, can perhaps be seen in this light, its childhood now behind it and its higher destiny awaiting its arrival.
When I was 21, I started to hear the whispers of an ancient wisdom within me telling me that my chosen lifestyle of working hard and playing hard was not a good balance. On the surface, it may have appeared balanced to others but on the inside, where no one could see but me, it felt like a one-way road to a limited, dead-end reality. And no matter how creative I got at disguising it by calling it names like “a job” or “a pay cheque” or (if all else failed) “a family and societal expectation”, it was still the opposite of living an authentic life that was honouring my natural gifts. Interestingly, this voice of wisdom inside me was far clearer to hear on a Friday than on any other day of the week. Many people “live for the weekend” but for me at the time, it was more about “listening on the weekend”.
Formally, Friday is the Islamic day of rest when people are officially away from work. It can start differently for anyone, depending on their walk of life. Some get up extra early to join a cycling group who like to take advantage of the empty city roads. Others, less inclined to be so active so early in the day, have a sleep in. Lying in bed after a night’s good rest, listening to the sound of birds chirping, is a personal Friday delight I look forward to every week.
Local fish markets and restaurants serving breakfast and brunch, are busy all morning. As midday fast approaches, you can hear the sounds of thousands of minarets broadcasting the melodious Friday call to prayer. Cars slowly accumulate and eventually fill and overflow parking areas by the mosques. The sight of men and kids walking towards the mosque in their clean traditional clothes makes for a post card picture. A less often captured moment is the sight of a latecomer to the mosque walking briskly, hoping to catch the blessings of the weekly mass prayer before it’s too late.
Friday family lunches and brunches are arguably just as sacred an event on this day. Families are reconnected with each other, siblings who don’t see each other all week sit next to each other passing plates and dishes. Perhaps the only other thing as important as Friday prayers and the sharing of a family lunch is the afternoon siesta enjoyed by many.
Beaches are full of vitamin D lovers who arrive early to claim their prime real estate for the day. Joggers run up and down the special tarmac strip as children reunite with the earth in playing with the sand instead of their iPads. And gardens love Fridays. People are either tending them or visiting garden centres to buy good things for them. With the feel of soil on their fingers people perhaps rediscover a part of their soul that needs grounding, care and nurture.
Time flies when you’re having fun and sooner than you think the sun is on its way down. At night, Friday takes on a new meaning. Young adults meet in the latest social hot spots in town. Their pull may be food, music, dance, cars, motorbikes, malls or just the desire to be around other humans in the same phase of life who share their hopes and dreams.
Friday is not just a day of the week when we are off work. It’s a timeless moment in our lives where we get the chance to commune with what is holy within ourselves as the individuals that make up this great multicultural city. It is my wish that in writing this regular column I can share with you what I see as holy in the life around me, and by doing so I hope that in some way it connects with what is holy to you.
Wishing you all a divine Friday.