The following post was originally posted on our school blog:
Reconciliation is the dream of hope. We are to dream redemption until the day we die.
During this current season of eastertide, the church my husband and I attend in Seattle has been collecting stories of resurrection. This is one of such stories. Like the rhythm of the triduum (Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday), redemption is only possible because one has experienced death and the grave. This is a story of the relationship between death and resurrection, suffering and beauty, conflict and reconciliation; a rhythm that is so often unavoidable it can only be embraced. However, the beauty found in such a rhythm as Friday, Saturday, Sunday, is largely unknown until given an opportunity to experience it, and not just once, but over and again.
On such Fridays, we experience what could be described as the death of hope. In March of 2011, a death occurred in mine and my husband’s relationship with our former Pastor and his family. Several at our school describes themselves as having been ‘hurt by the church’. While my husband and I wouldn’t necessarily describe ourselves as such, in many ways, we do find ourselves located there. That is, as ones having been hurt and also having inflicted hurt on those whom we have disagreed, by our words, assumptions, distance, and silence.
Our Saturday of silence lasted for over a year, which is longer than my heart wants to admit. Saturday is characterized by silence, abandonment, disbelief, death, agony, grief, and tears. If you do not allow yourself to mourn during this time, the day has not served you well. There is something beautiful about the process from death to life that is unnoticed when rushed.
Last week, we began our journey toward Sunday; and reconciliation, the dream of hope, became feasible. Hope is often found in unexpected places. The span of silence was broken, and we began the long, hard work of moving from death to resurrection. Our words were carefully crafted so as not to inflict any more pain on one another than our already present wounds could bear. These words reminded one another of the love we once shared, and the goodness of the other that we had long forgotten. We realized that our need of one another was more than our need to agree.
In his book, The Wisdom of Stability, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove writes on the necessity of cultivating stability by rooting ourselves more intentionally in the place and people of our community; while acknowledging that conflict among those who do life together is inevitable. In the foreword, Kathleen Norris writes: “Sometimes the conviction that it is God who has brought two people—or a community—together is all we need to keep us in the struggle to nurture and maintain relationships of trust, respect, and love. Committing to such stability is never easy, but it is always worth a try.” Stability demands that when tempted to leave, we stay, and allow God to find us there. Likewise, with such stability is a commitment to seek reconciliation.
In retrospect, I wonder: “what would have happened if we had stayed?” If we had it to do over, given what we have learned, we wouldn’t have so easily left. Yet our journey through the pain of Friday, the silence of Saturday, and the resurrection of Sunday that has got us to this place was necessary for a deeper relationship of love and grace that we now have with this Pastor and his family.
If you have never given yourself to this rhythm, the fullness of my heart bears witness that reconciliation, whether with a church, friend or foe, is indeed sweet.
Reference: Wilson-Hartgrove, Jonathan. The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture. Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2010.
The following excerpt is adapted from a paper I wrote last summer for Beauty, Brokenness and the Cross: Atonement Theology Through the Arts, my first class of graduate school. As we enter into the Triduum, I found it appropriate and necessary to revisit:
Holy Saturday. The epitome of the dark night of the soul. If any day has ever hindered one’s spiritual journey towards a relationship with God, it was this day. This is the day after—the day when pain is felt the greatest. When walking along with someone on their journey towards an expected death, it seems as though the world stops. After death, the next day, is when one realizes that the world has continued moving. Reality sets in and life must resume. But no one wants to get out of bed on Holy Saturday, for it is here that grief and loneliness begin. While it is okay to acknowledge the end of the story, “we are also invited to read the story from the inside, from the perspective of those who live through the shadows of Friday and Saturday without knowing the ending, for whom the Friday is a catastrophic finale to the would-be Messiah’s life, a day devoid of victory, a day of shredded hopes, drained of goodness.” Partaking in the story in such a way as the disciples, who didn’t know if Sunday would even happen, is best if one fully wants to grasp the meaning of this Holy Saturday.
Further, Lewis expresses the gravity of this day in declaring, “[that] we have not really listened to the gospel story of the cross and grave until we have construed this cold, dark Sabbath as the day of atheism.” Once again, it is only in knowing that Sunday comes that one can comprehend titling such day as “holy.” However, for the disciples, there was nothing about this day worthy of being considered holy. With Jesus of Nazareth dead, the liturgy became meaningless. The eucharist would not be consumed. If God was dead, to even pray seemed absurd. One can wonder if comfort was sought in the Psalms, “Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.”
With heavy hearts, those who loved Jesus most must now accept His death and acknowledge their pain. Both of which are necessary to begin the process of grieving. Chittister encourages, “[that] with or without our permission, with or without our understanding, eventually suffering comes. Then the question is only how to endure it, how to accept it, how to cope with it, how to turn it from dross to gleam.” The grief experienced on this day was not recorded, leaving the reader to assume that the biblical authors found the events (or lack thereof) on Holy Saturday unnecessary to document. Perhaps, however, “the nonevent of the second day could after all be a significant zero, a pregnant emptiness, a silent nothing which says everything.”
May you allow yourself to enter into the particularity of each day—slowly, patiently, not rushing toward Easter Sunday—experiencing the pace and emotions of what each day may hold.
it is not the job [of] the community of faith to offer ways of escaping the suffering that is part of being human (namely the anxiety brought about by the sense of death, meaninglessness, and guilt), but rather to form spaces in which it can be acknowledged and worked through.