We don’t know what to do with Holy Saturday- at least most of us don’t. Good Friday is a time of sorrow and mourning. Easter Sunday is filled with the joy of the resurrection. Saturday is an uncomfortable time. It is a time of waiting and we are a people who do not wait well. Waiting feels awkward. We don’t have things to do when we are waiting.
And so I wonder, what about the first followers of Jesus? What were they doing on Holy Saturday? The gospels are clear they didn’t understand Jesus’ predictions of his resurrection. Those predictions were simple too fantastic to believe. The outcome they were expecting, deliverance from Roman occupation and the restoration of Israel, did not happen. Everyone knew a dead messiah was a failed messiah. For the disciples, on Saturday, their future seems closed.
How do they go on? Their leader is gone. They can’t imagine a future without Jesus.
Can they go back? Back to what? Life before Jesus? They can’t undo what had happened.
On Holy Saturday they can’t go back and yet they cannot see a way forward.
Shelly Rambo in her book Spirit and Trauma: A Theology of Remaining, compares the disciples’ Holy Saturday experience with our experience after trauma, whether it is from natural disaster, house fire, varieties of loss, or death.
After trauma, we are in a Holy Saturday place. We can’t go back. What has happened cannot be undone. But we also cannot see a way forward. We can’t imagine the changed future. The past affects our present and our future. We have less control over things, people, and even ourselves than we care to admit. We feel powerless. We are powerless.
If you are in a place of loss, you are not alone. Plenty of people, including the disciples are there too.
For me, Holy Saturday is a time to reflect on the disciples’ loss and on my losses. I don’t have to be stuck there, in hours of meditation on loss. But I’ll reflect on living between being unable to change the past and equally unable to see the future- Holy Saturday time. Neither here, nor there. Waiting.
Of course I know how the disciples’ story- and by extension my story- will turn out. I can’t unknow the resurrection! And I am just far enough removed from some of my losses to know there was a way forward. Because I know this, I’ll go outside and find the early, not yet budded, daffodils and whisper (because today is a day for whispers, not shouting. Tomorrow we’ll shout), today I’ll whisper, “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.”
FYI I highly recommend “Spirit and Trauma”.