I am not an extremely religious person. I am not a preacher, chaplain or any kind of theologian. My life, my upbringing and most definitely my work, regularly take me to a place where I have to contemplate faith. Born on Good Friday and a lifelong lover of the Easter message, today is the day that gives me the most pause and compels me to write to you.
Today is Holy Saturday - the day where I think each of us live. Every day. Holy Saturday is the pause button between lost hope and hope regained. And before you think I’m going all biblical on this blog, stay tuned. Let me explain.
A back up: Holy Week marks the end of the Lenten season for Christian people (don’t go away, non-Christian readers). Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter when God sings to us a song from the musical, “Godspell”. He asks us to do the following “Day by Day”: to see thee (Him) more clearly, love (Him) more dearly, follow (Him) more nearly. Regardless of your religious belief, considering your faith with these three pieces of advice is most likely purposeful. The grand finale week comes down to Maundy Thursday ( the celebration of the Last Supper) and Good Friday, the day that remembers Christ’s crucifixion. After Good Friday, the faithful community holds its collective breath until the Easter candle is lit. For the believers, Jesus Christ is Risen and eternal HOPE is restored.
Even if you don’t believe, the story of hope lost and hope restored by resurrection/ redemption is compelling. It is repeated over and over again in literature, symphony, poetry and film.
Yesterday was Good Friday. I’ve always had a kindred relationship with this day because in 1971, April 9th, the day I was born, fell on Good Friday. As I got older, I questioned what made Good Friday so “good” if Jesus was killed. On my wedding day, my sister, matron of honor, answered the question definitively. In her toast to Kevin and me, she referenced my Good Friday birth and her Easter Sunday first meeting of me. She joked, but stated accurately, that her gift to me of plastic Easter eggs in my bassinet was quite genius as it demonstrated life’s fragility and God’s promise for HOPE. Perhaps, that was the very first moment I fell in love with this virtue.
In isolation, Good Friday is devastating. The baby that was born in a manger in Bethlehem is murdered for his beliefs. It seems archaic to think such action might be taken, until you take into account the multitude of terror attacks we see and fear on a daily basis. For those that believed in Jesus and what He represented, Hope died on the cross that day.
For the believers, there’s an annual spoiler alert. Easter Sunday listed on the calendar reassures the fearful that the stone is, in fact, pushed to the side, the tomb is empty, and the King is Risen. Whatever dress or pastel suit a Christian might wear to service/ mass, it doesn’t cover up the goose bumps that come when the choir sings “Jesus Christ is Risen Today”. Under your breath, you are saying “Hallelujah”. Don’t deny it.
So Good Friday, blah. Easter Sunday, Yay! Why oh why am I writing about Holy Saturday? I will tell you.
I started this blog as an effort to capture life, and the juxtaposition, of hospice nurse and Mom of growing boys. Throw in cancer survivorship and I feel I have “life bytes” I want to share. With a plea for forgiveness from the Christian church, I think the largest message for the general population comes not from Good Friday OR Easter Sunday, but in under-represented Holy Saturday.
Holy Saturday is the scary place where so many of us sit every day: I’m divorced, will my kids hate me? My wife has cancer, will I raise my kids alone ? My child has autism, will she ever be invited to a party? These questions, and so many others, sit in the broad apron of Holy Saturday. I remember learning that my cancer had recurred at the same time I wanted to start a family. Who would I be if not a Mom?? The “day before” seemingly takes away the hope and the “Easter” Sunday seems unlikely or unfathomable. My belief is most of us, every day, are battling some form of anxiety from living through the day that comes after the bad news, and praying for the HOPE that could be restored.
Friends, I have no cure for Holy Saturday. For the disciples of Jesus, they have the gift of hindsight. After the tomb was empty, we can imagine that they high fived each other and “dabbed” with the “I knew its” and “Told you so, Thomas!”. They could only get to that place after their agony of enduring Holy Saturday. I really do think that after that experience of living through Good Friday and surviving through to Easter Sunday, confidence was given and endurance for their next, inevitable, spiritual test.
I think, for all of the struggling I see, personally and professionally, the goal should not be to cure Holy Saturday. As friends and caregivers and family members and spouses and parents, my belief is that we most hold Holy Saturday as the most holiest of days, requiring each of us to show each other compassion and empathy. It is, perhaps, the very best day for us to see HIM more clearly, love HIM, more dearly and follow HIM, more clearly -- day by day! And, Holy Saturday tasks each of us to deliver the spoiler message that is, of course, HOPE.