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.