This day we often speak of waiting and, though that’s certainly part of our story, this day after Jesus’ death for the early disciples had no light in sight. I know I will go to the Easter Vigil tonight, though my heart is not yet in that place. Still, I know it. I live in different space than those close to Jesus that first day after when I’m sure they could not understand how the sun rose or time kept apace. All had stopped for them, and they had no idea about the next. A reflection from the Northumbria Community’s Celtic Daily Prayer includes these words:
When all is dark,
and Hope is buried,
it is hard to trust
The women outside the tomb were not waiting for Easter, they longed to be with the one they loved who was irrevocably, inexplicably, definitively dead. They, like the other disciples, were likely in grief’s fog and found it hard to function. But these women knew they wanted to be close. They could not let him go. They’d seen death creep upon him, and saw him part. Yet some familiar part of him was here – his body. Hold on. Collapse here. No words. Even silence was silent.
Long ago I read an old favorite book in verse on Mary. Some of you may be familiar with it – A Woman Wrapped in Silence. I remember little of it now, but one image has remained with me. In it, the author describes Joseph as protecting the space around Mary. I’ve often thought that there is much love in standing guard, protecting, cherishing around those we care about a certain space that they need for them, for a work, for something that is emerging. There is a deep valuing of the other, and a trust in who they are and what is being worked in them that is so expressed. Today I want to so protect the space around those grieving who lived and walked and ate with, and loved Jesus in person. That Jerusalem day, their hearts were broken, their minds confused. They did not know what we know – that the Easter Vigil comes with new fire, paschal candle, water, word, and sacrament. And yet something was being worked out in each of them – for they would be witnesses and disciples of amazing fortitude and joy in days and years ahead.
Today – and any day – when all is dark and hope is buried and trust is hard -may we find the places and the people who protect the space we need as we struggle or mourn or dwell in the silence within silence. And may we be protectors of others – those close to us and far – who find hope so buried.
Thoughts and ideas paled for the women who had followed Jesus in the simple need to be physically present outside the tomb. May we each find ways to let go of thoughts and ideas, images and hints, and simply enter silence this day.
Blessings on your Holy Saturday.