Holy Saturday is one of the most poignant days of Holy Week. Holy Saturday is the space I find myself after five weeks of vigil with my wife who has been critically ill in the ICU. Holy Saturday is the time in-between. The time in-between is a familiar place. It is the space between death and life. It is the space between despair and hope, between pain and comfort, between darkness and light. It is a time of fear, uncertainty and profound sorrow. It can be a time of spiritual awakening.
The doctor said upon my wife being discharged from OHSU to an acute rehab facility, “This is a miracle in so many ways. It will take time to fully understand all that has taken place. You surprised all of us. There is a very long road of healing ahead. This is the awkward and often difficult time in-between. You both will be different at the end of this journey. It is so important to extend grace to yourselves and to each other.” What?! Did I just hear a medical professional prescribe grace for the in-between time?
John’s Gospel begins the Easter story “While it is still dark.” A more poetic translation is “It is as deep dawn.” With fear and grief wound tightly around their hearts, the women started their journey to anoint the body of Jesus at the time of deep dawn. Deep dawn is that undefinable time, that thin space between darkness and light when you’re not sure what you believe anymore or if you believe at all. Deep dawn is a place brave people visit. Deep dawn is a letting go of what you expected entering into mystery. Deep dawn is a holy and sacred space. All that is asked of us is to hold vigil, to be present to the deep dawn.
Scripture promises when we have no words, only groans, Spirit meets us in our tears and longing for healing. Meister Eckhart wrote, “Truly, it is in the darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, the light is nearest of all to us whether we see it or not.”
It is Holy Saturday…the time in-between. If you, like me, find yourself in the liminal space of deep dawn wondering if light will ever come, give yourself grace and those who share the space with you. Light is near even if you can’t see or believe it is there.