Holy Saturday Lingers
“…. this Holy Saturday. Where it’s in between, and the sides don’t and can’t argue over which is primary—the cross and death, or the resurrection. Just in the middle, where there aren’t a lot of answers but there are a lot of questions. I find myself there a lot.”
This, a text to a friend on Saturday. The Holy quiet. Easter came, after Passover, after the washing of feet, after Good Friday. Resurrection Sunday always comes. The calendar marks it each year.
My alarm went off, and I hit the snooze again and again. Journey nestled as close to my legs as she could, her bottom end toward my feet. It’s my favorite time of day any day; I find healing in her breathing that is heavy with sleep. There’s healing in the lingering, before the to-do list begs my attention, before everyone inside and outside my doors begins the hustle.
I heard my phone buzz between snoozes, one text notification and then another.
A response regarding the Holy Saturday text:
“Let Him easter in us, be a
dayspring to the dimness of us,
be a crimson-cresseted east.”
—from “The Wreck of the Deutschland” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
“Easter is a verb,” she added.
And a long text from Audrey, naming and describing details from her memories of Easters past. Six vignettes she painted for me, for herself.
I lay there, my back to the windows and doggy at my feet, reading these words sent with love and bridging long miles. Tears plopped on the pillow; I heard them strike gentle and true, a small noise for my ear on the same pillow. My eyes have been burning for days with need of a cry, big or little.
I didn’t want to get up. More honest, I didn’t want to do Easter Sunday.
Holy Saturday is a tomb. I know this. That is not where I want to stay. Yet, I feel that place. The not-yet of it. The sit-still, lie-down-and-rest even. The some-things-die of it. The anointed-and-wrapped and knowing-the-wounds-don’t-hurt of it. The entrusting-myself-to-God of it.
Good Friday took everything. Jesus gave up his spirit, the last breath ahhhh-ing from his human lungs. His bloodied and torn body heaved with one final exhale and gave in to the gravity. The spikes held him fast on the pieces of lumber until the authorities gave permission for his corpse to be taken down.
According to the Gospel accounts, Joseph of Arimathea took the body of Jesus to a new tomb. John records that Nicodemus brought myrrh and aloes; he and Joseph bound the body of the crucified one with linen wrappings and the spices. The other three accounts record that Mary Magdalene and another Mary—or according to Luke, “the women who had comes with him out of Galilee”—saw where the tomb was then returned home to prepare the spices, which they planned to apply once the Sabbath was over.
A deceased Jesus lay on a carved ledge inside what we call a grave. The covering to its mouth closed off with a massive stone. And the friends and loved ones of Jesus of Nazareth rested.
It was a Sabbath rest that I imagine to be full of grief, questions, confusion. Perhaps they recalled what their teacher had said, something about rising again? did he say three days? Maybe they racked their brains for some answers, anything besides death.
We know what they didn’t. We use that zoom lens, pressing in to examine the ripped flesh, and we add our own injury with our readied answers and iron-clad conclusions. The crucifixion, God’s wrath satisfied. Bless the body of Jesus. We do indeed call out with the crowd, “Crucify him!” We beat the tar out of him year after year with our bludgeoning tools.
Then Resurrection happens, just like we always knew it would. Jesus said it. I believe it. That settles it. He lives.
Oh, I believe Jesus lives. I believe that his body warmed there in the closed-up cavern, his limbs tingling as blood began to move through veins again. I believe the audacity of it, like I believe his audacious beginnings as he grew inside the womb of an unmarried young woman. He is risen indeed, and he lives.
But that one middle day, that Sabbath resting day. On what we call Holy Saturday, the followers and lovers of Jesus didn’t know the whole thing. Maybe they hoped. Maybe they dug deep for a trust they couldn’t make sense of. They didn’t know what we do.
While I can’t un-know it, I find myself identifying with that space in time. Since it’s a Sabbath, there is only so much room for arguing and debate. Grief? Yes. Lament? Yes. Ache, disappointment, anger? Yes. But quiet and required rest.
Sunday is coming. The Marys will go to the tomb and discover by some glory beyond their comprehension, the ultimate mind-blown reality.
I’m still in my bed. Not literally, of course. There are things to do, people to love, changes to fight for. But in my spirit, I’m there, my head on my purple flannel pillow-cased pillow. Some tears are falling. My dog waits with me.
It’s Holy Saturday. Sunday is coming. My mind will perceive it. My body will feel it. My spirit will rejoice. I won’t miss it when it comes.