The 1993 film classic Groundhog Day found Bill Murray repeating the same day over and over. In celebration of this February 2, our readers remember a day they’d like to repeat.
In high school, I was among the first students to work for Chicago’s Gallery 37—the precursor to After School Matters—as an apprentice artist in visual art and playwriting. If I could pick a day to relive, it would be one of those days. I got paid to create pictures using paint, pastels, etc., and people paid money to purchase my artwork. That was a great feeling for me as an artist.
The day I chose not to skip Saturday morning confirmation class when I was thirteen in late 1961 or early 1962. That was the day I sat down to the left of our ECC minister in the large circle of students as he shuffled his papers in preparation for class to begin. A classmate in the group threw a paper airplane that landed between my feet. I bent down to pick it up and to hand it to the minister. As I came up in my chair, he swung his fist in a tremendous left hook that lofted me into the air and landed me sprawling in the center of the room.
The minister told the class he was going to his office to get himself together; I went into the hall to talk to my brother, a classmate. We decided not to tell our parents out of fear that it would disrupt our household even further. My older sister was pregnant out of wedlock, and the minister who hit me was haranguing my parents to force her to stand in front of the congregation and publicly apologize for her sin. My parents refused. I’ve always believed that that his blow to my head was displaced anger—for I had done nothing.
He never apologized. And I could never forgive him.
I would return to the day I was ordained into Word and Sacrament. I woke that morning, seven weeks pregnant and bleeding heavily. My older son was in the hospital after having an asthma attack the night before. I also had out-of-town guests arriving for the ordination service. I could not fully experience any one emotion that day because all the emotions were too much, so I became numb instead and just went through the motions. If I could relive that day many times, I would experience each emotion I wish I could have experienced at the time.
Megan Sherman Sporrong
I would have spent more time with my mom the last day we were together before she slipped into a coma. We lived more than an hour away from each other, I had a full-time job, a husband, three kids, and a household to run, and I was not able to be with her as much as I wished I could. She suffered from a terminal illness, but she had mystified doctors by surviving for sixteen years and I was emotionally spent. If I could relive that day, I would tell her over and again how much I loved and admired her. I would snuggle up against her smooth cheeks and browse through her favorite photo albums, singing her favorite songs.
There were only a few hours between the time the hospice coordinator told us that my husband, Jerry, would not make it on Monday to our hospice community at Mt. Miguel Covenant Village in San Diego, and his untimely death on April 10, 2011.
I would change how I lived those last few hours. I would move the bed away from the wall in the hospital and all the apparatus with it. I would crawl into bed next to Jerry, my husband of fifty-two years. I would tell him how much I loved him as I cuddled him in my arms. I missed the intimacy of those last moments in the perfunctory passage of dying as the morphine slowed his breathing. I didn’t have the chance to say, “Honey, I love you so much” one more time—until now.
Retired Covenant Missionary Spring Valley, CA
It was the first day of my clinical internship as a therapist in a drop-in center for homeless, Chicago youth. Many identified as LGBTQ and had been kicked out of their homes because of how they identified sexually. I had grown up quite conservative; and while the conversations in my life around human sexuality have been fairly active and intentional over the past fourteen years or so, I recognized that I still had a good amount of internal reactivity going on.
One client in particular, a MTF transgender woman was especially rough around the edges. I was happy to sit across the room from her and watch while she removed her nail polish. She finished her task and moved on to being social with other youth at the facility. I wondered how I might connect with her. I looked at the polish she had left behind and wondered, “Maybe I could offer to polish her nails.” And immediately, the tired, worn out (but still so relevant) phrase, “What would Jesus do?” popped into my mind. There’s more to that story, but I went home a changed person that day. I saw that population differently, through Jesus lenses, and I’d love to look through them again the way I did that day.
It’s impossible to choose one day. I got married, had two kids, dunked a basketball, landed a trick after months of failure, shared the stage with great musicians, experienced both spiritual and literal mountaintops, saw amazing sites on different continents—and all of them happened on different dates.
Maple Grove, Minnesota
How can you choose? Maybe the best bet is to choose a day that isn’t momentous—and see how you can make a difference in other people’s lives.
Sounds obvious, but my wedding day. I was over forty and was “to the moon and beyond” happy!
I was a German missionary kid living in Japan during WWII. Under orders of the Japanese government all foreigners were to evacuate Tokyo in 1944. Our family had a rustic mountain cabin in the Japanese Alps where we survived the rest of the war.
Papa picked me as the oldest to go up to Karuizawa with him and get the cabin ready. I was not yet ten years old. He packed a picnic and we hiked up to Sunset Point where there is glorious overview of the Alps in full view of an active volcano called Asama Yama. That day he told me the story of his own faith journey. I will remember the date forever because we carved it into the bark of the tree: 4-4-44. It was Good Friday, April 4, 1944.
My dad was in the German Airforce in WWI. When one of his buddies was hung up in a landing and killed, Dad was picked to be the honor guard at the funeral. Dad happened to have the same first name, Karl, as the young soldier who had died. The boy’s mother told my dad, “Our Karl promised that the next time he came home, he would welcome Jesus into his life. But he is now dead. But we will now pray for a new Karl.” My dad had no idea what she was talking about.
The war ended, and Dad went back to his gardening business. Germany was in a deep depression. Some three years went by. Some folk from the very village where Dad had served as the honor guard came to Munich, looked up all the Notehelfers in the post office, and tracked down my dad. They invited him back to their village for a weekend. Dad agreed to come.
Unbeknown to him these strangers had continued to pray for “their new Karl,” and Dad walked right into a spiritual awakening among young people in that village. It became for him his permanent marker as a Christian.
Santa Barbara, California
November 26, 2011. It was a mission trip to Guanajuato, Mexico, when my friend and I led worship with a close, beloved church plant, singing with no instruments, no playback, just voices. “Hoy te vengo a bendecir”/ “Today I come to bless you.” So unforgettable, it peeled away a new layer of what worship is. I carry it in my heart almost daily.
Hoffman Estates, Illinois
Sunday morning, February 20, 1955, dawned bright and clear, with approximately five inches of snow on the ground. My wife of five years and I were living in Flemington, New Jersey, 800 miles from home, family, and longtime friends.
Soon after arising Ginnie said with certainty, “Bob, this is the day.” We decided not to attempt church, which was very unusual for us. We kept in touch with our doctor by phone to jointly time our arrival at the hospital.
By mid-afternoon we had added a daughter. The doctor performed his job and Ginnie did the “heavy lifting” and I paced the hall. This was before husbands were allowed a role, but I soon was allowed to count fingers and toes.
The births of the latter two children were equally happy occasions, but that first one moved us from a couple to a family. I don’t believe there was ever a time when my wife and I felt closer to God and to each other.
Shortly after 9/11 I became consumed with anxiety and fear. I wanted to stay where I felt safe, with no fear of anyone causing harm to me or my family. It was difficult to get through the day. My nerves were on edge every minute.
My fear increased in the ensuing years. My fear of flying grew so great that flying was not an option. I missed family get-togethers, trips to Disney World, and many work-related events as a result. I let fear guide my life for many years.
Then I landed a job at Covenant Offices working for Covenant Merge Ministries. One of the requirements was travel. As I was planning my first trip to Nicaragua, I realized I had to move past this fear. Something happened to me during that trip. I was set free!
It brings me to tears thinking about the many times I missed out on traveling to my homeland in Guatemala because of my anxiety and terror. I can see the many hugs I missed with loved ones, the laughs we could have enjoyed together, the meals of warm tortillas made by my grandmother’s beautiful hands.
Sadly, my grandmother and my aunt died this year. The pain of not having spent enough time with them stings my heart every day. So I think back on the day I lost the person I knew myself be. I was strong, spunky, and adventurous! I would redo that day in a heartbeat. I would not only change how I handled my fear, but I would seek God’s comfort and peace. I know I would have found healing and restoration—and I am certain I would have had the courage to overcome my anxieties, especially my fear of flying.
Schiller Park, Illinois
When I was around six I would wander around my dad’s strawberry patches in Guatemala, picking strawberries and eating them as I walked. Sometimes I would play hide and seek with my cousins, but one particular day we were running and laughing with not a care in the world, just eating the sweet strawberries and enjoying life. I wasn’t worried about anything but just getting the biggest strawberry. As the day ended my mom called us in for dinner, and I remember lying on the floor and the savory smells coming from the kitchen. She had made Guatemalan tamales that night, and I remember telling her, “Mama, hoy es el mejor dia.” (Today is the best day.)
I would love to relive my wedding day. It was such a celebratory day full of special, small moments, and if I was able to relive it, I’m sure I would notice details I missed the first time.
The day I was baptized. I was about six weeks old, and the baptism took place at home, not at church. I of course have no memory of that day, and can only go by what my parents told me about it. If I could relive that day with the understanding of an adult, I’d see who baptized me (I have no idea what his name was), and hear my parents and relatives talk about what they wanted for me. It would be wonderful to get in on all that!
The day my wife and I dove the Barrier Reef. That was a pretty amazing day.
The day my children were born. Driving an hour the day after Thanksgiving to a hospital wondering if my wife would make it all the way to Labor and Delivery. Oh, the anticipation, the hope, setting my eyes on my son and being with him. I could do that all over again. The sleepless night we had as we stayed on the labor and delivery floor listening to doctors in other rooms and in different languages counting to ten. I could do that all over again.
Campton Hills, Illinois
Any day where I could be with people I’ve lost. Possibly a time at Thanksgiving where Grandma, Grandpa, aunts, and cousins were all present.
Union City, California
Growing up I never wanted to be anything but a doctor. When I was around sixteen, I read a Life magazine article about a medical school student at the University of Michigan. The accompanying fullpage photo depicted a dark room and a spotlighted desk with many piles of books. The caption said something like, “He will have to know everything in these books before he can graduate.” Seeing that picture, I made a snap decision that I wasn’t smart enough to pursue medicine. At the time, there were no guidance counselors around to steer me away from that reaction. In hindsight, I realize that the real problem was that I wasn’t smart enough to make a better decision. I still regret that decision sixty-four years later. I should have at least tried for medicine.
I wouldn’t relive a single day. Even though I haven’t had a perfect life, I’m content with every day and experience I’ve encountered because it has made me the person I am today.