As time passes and I move in and through this life of mine, I find that of all the days of the church year, Holy Saturday resonates most. Resonates most strongly and most tenderly. Holds what is true. Holy Saturday lives out for me the strongest, most raw and authentic images of faith, of hope, of love.
Holy Saturday was the day that those early friends and followers of Jesus didn’t give up. It was the day that they got up. If they hadn’t they surely would have missed Sunday’s sunrise.
Good Friday’s story holds the images of those who walked beside him or waited up on the hill where the crucifixion took place. There they watched as the One who embodied Promise slowly, painfully died. And after a time they watched as he was taken down off the cross, wrapped in a cloth and carried away to a tomb.
I can only image how long they stayed on that hillside. I can only image the weeping and cursing and silence. I can only image the darkness that came and covered everything. The One who had taught and laughed and cried, had healed and preached and held – the Holy, Beloved One had died before their eyes. And now, what was next? What could possibly come next? Somehow, one–by-one and two-by-two they left and went home.
After what had probably been a fitful or even sleepless night, the sun rose on Saturday morning.
Holy Saturday came for those early believers. How they spent this day, we can only image. Behind closed and locked doors. Walking the streets aimlessly looking for something of life, of hope. Sitting with a back against a tree looking off in the distance. Somehow they lived in and through this day. And when the sun set, the long, endless day came mercifully to an end.
The lost-ness, the aimlessness, the brokenness of Holy Saturday feels true for me each year. As I’ve experienced losses of loved ones, losses of treasured jobs, losses of relationships the emptiness that follows lives here in Holy Saturday. This is the day when everything that is known, counted on, everything stops. Even the ground beneath seems unsure. And yet, and yet, and yet it is here, even here where our faith lives. Perhaps it is here where our faith is strongest.
It is into this Holy Silence, that God’s presence dwells. Even here, especially here – God is with us. Behind the closed and locked doors, God is as close as our next breath. Walking aimlessly (left foot, right foot), God is as close as our next breath. Sitting with our back against a tree, God is as close as our next breath.
Blessings and peace to you this day. Blessings on what was, what it and what will surely be.
In our end is our beginning in our time infinity,
in our doubt there is believing, in our life eternity...
...unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.
~ from "Hymn of Promise
Life isn't always easy, and we all go through times of rolling uphill or down. In the past several weeks my life has felt all uphill. Up, up, keep on climbing. Dig a little deeper, push a little harder. Left foot, right foot. And lately it's felt like there has been little or nothing to grab onto for the climb. I've got to say that it's been tough. More days than not have felt harder than my heart could do. "More than you can pray over," I've heard it said. And that felt true.
And now as I come to this this day of Spring 2016, this brand, new day it's as though my spirit has been invited to begin again. Wake up. Look around. Breathe deeply. Now as I come to this day I am reminded of a great gift: God has found me over and over and over again. And I can't begin to find words for how grateful I am. Truly wide – open grateful.
My sister, Betsey gave me a copy of the soundtrack from the musical "Hamilton" and those songs have been companioning me. "It would be enough," has Eliza singing, `look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now..." This whole past weekend has been filled to overflowing with living, breathing examples of the gift of `looking around.' Friday night, Linda and I met our friends Jeri and Susan and sat at a sidewalk table and shared dinner. All around us Decatur was just being Decatur. People were walking side-by-side, hand-in-hand, talking and laughing. People at home with themselves, with one another. Then Saturday after a gracious and kind breakfast with my sisters of Booth 25, I stopped by the Y. Two old friends from St. John's Church reached out to me with love and compassion. They had no idea of my weary spirit. They just showed up. They appeared to me as messengers of light and love. In these past couple of days over and over and over again God has reminded me of yes. My faith is incarnational. When I trust and believe, I am invited look around and see the grace of God in folks around me.
On this first day of spring I am ready for a change. On this first day of a new season, I am ready for the turning of the page and seeing what comes next. On this chilly Sunday morning, I am so very thankful for the God who created and is creating still all around me. Hard times come and go. Feelings of being lost and weary-spirited are part of this life we live. This day I give thanks to God for the grace that reminds me of coming home again. On this first day of Spring, the light is comin' on, lest we forget.
If those tiny sprigs of new grass, can push through the Georgia clay and make their way to the sun, then it is my joy to do just the same with my life and this new season.
Working in Family Experience at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. A Candler School of Theology graduate, Lesley has just published her second book, Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon for 29 Days (available on this website). She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan and Sam in Decatur, GA.