It's funny how our language can take us forward or backward. Back in time can take us into the midst of a memory or it can be words of relief at being at the right place, right this instant. Same words, but with entirely different feelings.
Back in time is both the "going backwards" and the "being right here, right now." Used in either way it expresses some feeling that holds emotion, holds energy, holds heart. When we go back in time, it's usually for a purpose, for a relief, for a life-line. We go back because there is something we are seeking that can't be found in this very moment for us. Going back in time takes me to a special place that I treasure or back to be with people who are no longer here now.
As I move from family to family working in a children's hospital, I'm especially mindful of the holiness of that back in time traveling. Most everyday I witness parents going back. If their child is 3 days old or 3 years old, they tell me a story or two about what their son did, or an expression their daughter had on her face just before. Most everyday I am aware of ways we humans have of measuring time. In my last work with hospice and adults, I daily heard stories from patients or their families of life experiences. Stories of past adventures or celebrations or life lessons. And in much smaller, tender ways, I am mindful to listen for the same as I sit with parents at their child's bedside.
Going back in time, is our human way of holding on with our hearts. It's our way of navigating the present, of being guided by what was most precious in our past. Going back in time is often best done with the heart.
Last night sister, Betsey and I walked up to `Butter and Cream' to buy an ice cream cone from our favorite soda jerk, John Brogan. Along the way we stopped to admire the sunset. Bets took these pictures to mark our journey. One of the amazing things about this life we've been given, this life we're living moment-by-precious-moment is - if I hadn't told you, would you have known the pictures are of a sunrise or a sunset? From a picture, it's hard to tell. You can't really enter in, until you've been invited into the story. And with these words or invitation, perhaps you see and feel these pictures differently.
Back in time can also mean, "whew, just made it." You didn't start without me. I didn't miss the moment. I am here. With you. Right now.
Turning sixty is a waking-up time for me. It is a deep knowing of the preciousness of this time I've been given. Decades now for me of places and people to visit going back in time. And as Brogan nears graduation and Sam is close to getting his driver's license, I'm aware that I'm just in time, whew for what is right here, right now all around me. Back in time, whew. And thank you, dear loving and gracious God for it all.
Holy Saturday. This in-between day. This day when time seems to stop ~ lost in the woods, wandering. Trying to stay on the path, trying to follow toward what is ahead. But it's hard to focus. Left foot, right foot.
As time passes and I move in and through this life of mine, I find that of all the days, Holy Saturday resonates most within me. Today resonates most strongly and most tenderly. This day feels to hold 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, brutally, 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, the cursing the 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. Some stayed behind closed and locked doors. Some were seen walking the streets aimlessly looking for some sign of life, of hope. Some might have found a favorite tree, and sat with backs 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.
Every year the lost-ness, the aimlessness, the brokenness of Holy Saturday feels true for me. For the past eight months, I have been learning how to work at our children's hospital. Most everyday I walk with Holy Saturday's brokenness. In the postures of parents, I witness our human, desperate clingings to hope. For as long as it takes, I will stay right here. In the faces of grandparents I feel the terrible tenacity of not giving an inch, not giving up. All of this and more are here in Holy Saturday. This is the day when everything that is known, counted on, when 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.
Many of us have been raised on this Holy Week story. Ever since our first hearing, we have known how this week will end. We rush to hide the eggs for the hunt, shine our shoes for the service. Somehow walking the halls at the hospital, Easter sunrise walks just up ahead. But for today, I am sitting with the Holy Saturday's silence.
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.