For Christians around the world this week is Holy Week, when we mark Jesus’ crucifixion and death on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter morning. Christ’s passion on Good Friday helps us to begin to understand the mystery that he companions us in all our human suffering. Easter Sunday brings us the joy of celebrating the promise of new life.
In recent years I have had an uncomfortable growing sense that the day in between those two days has been given short shrift. Holy Saturday seems relegated to the status of a neglected step child. We participate in the observance of the days of death and resurrection, but what about the time of entombment in between? Holy Saturday – that sacred, silent space, where we are called apart to contemplate the action of the passion and ultimately look toward the dawn of rising again.
What does Holy Saturday mean in our own lives?
There is a whole body of learned works on the theology of Holy Saturday – best left to minds far greater than my own. But I believe on a practical, experiential level in the midst of life’s array of difficult happenings – illnesses, deaths, addiction crisis, financial brokenness, and busted up relationships – we must enter into a time of apartness, a time in the Holy Saturday tomb of the circumstances to sift through the chaos of the wreckage left in the wake of those storms.
Too often I have heard what honestly sounds like a trite chant of “Good Friday to Easter Sunday. Good Friday to Easter Sunday,” when some terrible challenge weighs on the life of a loved one. Those chanters are well meaning, but there is a hell of a lot more to recovering from grief and suffering than a swift and safe passage around the silence of entombment.
The fact is Jesus chose to keep a holy, silent space between his death and the moment the astonished women saw the stone rolled away. It was brief, but divinely placed there. And that God-ordained space is an important invitation for us to honor the time – however short or long the season – in our own lives or the lives of those we journey with that it takes to heal, to begin to comprehend, and to accept on a deep heart level the incomprehensible circumstances.
Just as Jesus did.
Over these next days of Lenten spiritual practices, and the happy traditions of dyeing eggs and making a great Easter dinner I hope I can hold a space, a pause, a Holy Saturday moment to recognize not all of life’s events can be tied up with a bright Easter bow. I hope I can hold a place for the mystery of the tomb and the invitation to journey into its silent wisdom.