Grieve and Hope
After someone dies, there are details, of course, to be addressed, lists that must be drawn up and crossed off, arrangements that need to be made.
But the adrenaline that fuels the energy necessary to drive the inevitable away, that sustains the waiting when one concedes that a life will end, that strengthens us to uphold the spirits of the dying even when one’s own spirits are devastated…that dissipates.
There is nothing more to do, per se, but grieve.
We aren’t quite clear what those who loved Jesus did on the day after his death.
We know that it was the Sabbath, and that therefore the women needed to wait until Sunday to anoint Jesus’ body.
We also know that the women didn’t know what they would find when they went to the tomb: they had prepared the spices and oils, but, for quite understandable reasons, they had not prepared themselves.
But we know what they didn’t.
We know what they had reason to grieve on Friday, and we know that they would have reason to rejoice on Sunday.
We all have reason to grieve on any day.
But we also know what the women in the texts yet didn’t: they’d be the first preachers of the Gospel news that Jesus is risen.
Easter doesn’t eliminate grief. It is neither a celestial Magic Eraser that removes our pain, or a divine distraction that trivializes our losses.
In fact, arguably, because we know what the women didn’t, that death does not win, it frees us to move all the more confidently toward grief and loss, and toward those who experience them, and to trust in the knowledge that death is real, but life is real-er.
Holy Saturday, as I so often say, is the most honest day of the Church.
It leans back into the truth of sorrow and regret and fear and despair.
This year, thanks to Covid, we have all felt something of all of that, not to mention our ordinary experience of every day losses and worries and griefs.
But Holy Saturday also leans into the empty tomb, where it finds not nothing, but something: hope.
And maybe that’s what a person does on Holy Saturday, the day after we mark Jesus’ death, and all death.
We grieve, but we also hope.
Thank you so much for what you have offered us in your reflecting and writing this Holy Week. As a pastor, sometimes it is difficult to “experience” the rhythm of The Great Three Days, because of all the preparation and working ahead, I have found a good centering in the pieces you have given us. Peace to you and your sweet family!