i have always appreciated this day - this space between crucifixion friday and resurrection sunday.
for years i've called it "dark saturday" - which i know is not its liturgical name, but who's to stop me? i appreciate it because i empathize with it. i can not fathom what it would be like to step out of a rocking boat and feel the water solid beneath my feet. my imagination does not stretch far enough to deeply experience the fear and wonder of demons being thrown into pigs, or a man dead for days walking out of a tomb. but this day i get. i can easily place myself into the skin of peter.
an entire day of hiding and feeling and pain.
i am wondering this morning why Jesus waited a day. why didn't he rise on saturday? on the sabbath? it would have thematically matched his many teachings about the sabbath being for man and not the other way around. it would have saved the disciples this darkness and agony.
i am coming to believe that so much of the life of Christ is a consistent echo of these words "i understand your pain".
illegitimate birth. refugee status. menial labour. sleepless nights. burdening responsibility. discomfort, homelessness, betrayal. he was seduced, blamed, accused, misunderstood. he endured physical pain, emotional torture, spiritual abandonment.
a man of sorrows, intimate with pain.
and so much of the disciples' lives - the humanity he entrusted with his teachings and secrets and friendship - provide snapshots of my experience. my passionate following, my gross denial, my thwarted intelligence, moments of deep faith and open betrayal.
enter into all this empathy the gaping hole of saturday. this darkest of days. no comfort, no safe harbour, no words or actions to diminish the helplessness and hopelessness. and it makes me feel strangely embraced. i am not alone in the darknesses of my life. others have stood here with me - others with much more reason for encouragement - men and women who literally walked with Jesus, touched him, were healed and educated and fed by the man himself. they were even warned, multiple times, in no uncertain words that this would happen, and that it would not be the end. and yet, here they are, like i sometimes am - sitting for an entire day in the dark.
i wonder if there were any of them who tried to remind the rest. "hey, guys, remember when he told us he would die and then would come back to life?"
did it come off as an empty platitude? a "God is good all the time and all the time God is good!" or "all things work for good for those who love him!" or "the sun is still shining behind the storm!"(notice there always seems to be an exclamation mark after these sentences)...... words that in and of themselves are perfectly true but make me want to slap the person who says them to me.
i bet they did. i wonder if he/she was slapped.
if the disciples had listened. if they had remembered. if they could truly treasure in their hearts the gift that sunday would be - the beyond-explanation-miraculous-global-gift that would forever change history and life and eternity - would saturday have been so dark?
and can i, in my darkest of days, somehow cling to the truth that God truly, TRULY, is good all of the time? that he himself will make all things well? that his faithfulness is as sure as the sun which remains steady at the center of our universe?
i appreciate this day because it gives a certain credibility to the fact that in this life of discipleship there will be days that feel a lot closer to hell than heaven. that finding myself in a bereft state does not necessarily mean i have flung widely off course.
i also appreciate that it is a limited time. and that brings me hope.
but what i appreciate the most is when i use my imagination and see myself visiting one disciple - let's say mary magdalene. i hold her cold hands and look into her empty eyes and whisper to her - 'everything changes tomorrow'.
may we find the strength in our darkest of days to cling tightly to the truths that we know in our heads, though we do not feel them or see them in our experience. may we take moments to visit ourselves, to look in our own eyes, and compassionately say "i am sorry this is a dark saturday. sunday is coming".