faith in action

Easter in a Holy Saturday World

Holy Saturday is the time in between. It is the hours after the trauma, the shock of betrayal, the sickened response to violence, the chill of the horror, and the finality of death.

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Emily Dickinson says,

After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
The stiff Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore,’
And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’?

Was this pain today, yesterday, or centuries before? It is all three.

We are living in a Holy Saturday world. We carry the pain of the world in our bones. The pain of our broken and weary hearts is bottled up inside of our bodies. The horror of the war in Ukraine is unspeakable. The despair of immigrants seeking asylum at the US/Mexico border is debilitating. The weariness of cleaning up after the war in Syria is crushing. The betrayals in Afghanistan are heart-breaking. Covid is not over. Gun violence is an hourly occurrence. Black men in the US continue to suffer from police violence.

Children are suffering from many traumas. Teachers, doctors, nurses, fire fighters, police, care givers and parents are exhausted. People in nursing homes are so lonely. People living on the streets around the world have no place to rest. Racism expresses itself in profound ways. Churches are struggling to find their way into new life. The devastating impact of Climate Change is real and time is running out to fix it.

Holy Saturday is part of our faith journey. At this moment in history, our common journey of faith is in the context of trauma. Shelley Rambo, a professor at Boston University’s School of Theology has reflected on and written about Holy Saturday and its relationship with trauma. In her book, Spirit and Trauma: A Theology of Remaining, she writes:

“Language falters in the abyss; it fractures at the site of trauma. We need to find a different way of speaking from the depths, reclaiming the notion that language about God is always fractured language, always broken, and never complete.”

It is true that language falters. There are not words that adequately give expression to this life in this moment. Holy Saturday is a quiet, wordless day. Music, poetry, prayer, gardening, walking and decorating eggs help heal the wounds of our broken hearts and our fractured world.

Howard Thurman, the great mystic theologian and former Dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University, gives to us a prayer of solace and hope.

Lord, Lord, Open Unto Me.
by Howard Thurman

Open unto me—light for my darkness.

Open unto me—courage for my fear.

Open unto me—hope for my despair.

Open unto me—peace for my turmoil.

Open unto me—joy for my sorrow.

Open unto me—strength for my weakness.

Open unto me—wisdom for my confusion.

Open unto me—forgiveness for my sins.

Open unto me—tenderness for my toughness.

Open unto me—love for my hates.

Open unto me—Thy Self for myself. Lord, Lord, open unto me!

At the center of our faith and in every Eucharist we proclaim with joy.

Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

Blessed Easter Journey.