Holy Lament, Holy Suffering

It’s the day where light was engulfed by darkness, friends wept and foes rejoiced. A day that death lost its grip but life was still hidden. A day full of communal lament and individual questions.

A day where death appeared to have conquered over life, leaving a trail of pain, grief, doubt, and overwhelming confusion.

A day where those who loved him were gripped with guilt and a mother was crushed to despair.

A day of total abandonment.

Holy Saturday is the stark reminder that we don’t really live in a world of black or white, yes or no, good or bad, half empty or half full, joy or sorrow, holy or unholy, godly or godless, positive or negative, joy or lament... there is no “either or” but a larger than life “both and” that God beckons us to embrace.

C.S. Lewis states,

On the one hand Death is the triumph of Satan, the punishment of the fall, and the last enemy.  Christ shed  tears at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane: the Life of Lives that was in Him detested this penal obscenity not less than we do, but more.  On the other hand, only he who loses his life will save it.  We are baptized into the death of Christ, and it is the remedy for the fall.  Death is, in fact, what some modern people call ‘ambivalent’.  It is Satan’s great weapon and also God’s great weapon: it is holy and unholy; our supreme disgrace and our only hope; the thing Christ came to conquer and the means by which He conquered.

Holy Saturday, “a day that is consecrated to God,” and yet I find myself feeling more isolated and lonely, and far less “consecrated’ than I can ever remember.

Today was tough. My head hurt. My heart bled. God seemed far away.

It’s my first Easter without family. Three grandsons less than a half-hour drive. One of them (right) is here from North Carolina while his mother works in the ICU caring for the most critical patients, and Covid steals more lives.

A little who slept in my bed as a baby/toddler while I smelled his sweaty head and breathed in Holy Love. Now separated by an unholy darkness and a responsible choice of otherness and love of humanity.

Even family is separated in the holy otherness of life for image bearors.

The wee ones that change in the blink of an eye transforming during the deep, deep, slumber of isolation.

I don’t know when I will touch his face or hear the giggles he has for his mama. It was planned for now – before summer.

They grow so fast. I was at his birth. I held him two months later before stranger danger began and two months after that when I fought to win over the stranger danger with raspberry kisses and peek-a-boo.

It’s not the same.

It lacks the sweaty head and stinky toes.

Holy Love is wrapped in the linens of Holy Suffering, waiting in the dark and lonely tomb for the light of day.

So we wait.

We cry.

We reach.

We connect.

We hope.

We embrace the “both – and” realities of this broken world as we seek the face of Jesus who knows the sorrow of waiting in the dark.

Tomorrow will not be the expected resurrection for everyone. Many will die, many more will grieve, and many more will continue to wait between life and death, sorrow and joy, physical life or eternal life.

Both – and.

For me it will be an ever darker reminder that my vocation is once again painful, my life is lonely, the stress is great, but the dawn is near. Whether bio or zoe – physical or spiritual the God that was is the God that is.

He sits with me as together we sip a White Russian reminding me that I may cry tonight (and even tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day) but joy will arrive with the light of day.

Whenever that may be – the holder of time is holding us.

Empty roads as humanity waits.

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