Photo by Ned Olson
Some years ago, at least in a measure, I returned to the days of my youth. I returned to the visceral reality of this strange world called Liturgy. It’s not a world of the mind so much as a world of the senses.
On the whole, as in the whole of humanity – those of us who celebrate Spring in all our various ways, on the whole we are quite good at such celebration. We will dive in with our whole selves, or at least the parts that are not otherwise distracted. We will dive in whether with our finest clothes, our most sumptuous cut of meat, with all the colors of the rainbow, whether with high holy choirs in seriously tall edifices to Heaven, or rather in the raucous meeting hall with swaying choirs and clapping hands, or even in the primal orgy of the fertility rite. Even with colored eggs in the grass and sack races across the park lawn – all these most of us will willingly engage one way or another.
There are somewhat fewer of us who show up on Good Friday, or to some other rite of penitence or remorse, whether commemorating the pain of some fallen heroes or whether in acknowledgement of our own fault or folly. There are those too who willingly or grudgingly engage, each in our own way, the darkness of Good Friday.
But what of Holy Saturday?
I admit that it took me more than a few properly celebrated Good Fridays amongst new acquaintances as we made the gradual journey towards becoming old friends – those of us who somehow survived ourselves – a few Good Fridays were so observed before Holy Saturday began to sink into my soul. It was not just a matter of ritual, whether joyous or sorrowful, in communion or in solitude, no matter how often or how frequently repeated. It took awhile for the singular lack of ritual, for those so initiated, on Holy Saturday to sink in. It’s not that I DID or DO anything differently on Holy Saturday then or now than those things I may have done my life long. I will rise, eat breakfast, perhaps drag the lawnmower along on its first round of spring. I may drive to the store or finally get started on my taxes. I am seldom entirely alone, but also somehow neither am I quite with others in the same way as other Saturdays. Even the blaring TV or the heated family argument all seem somehow more muted on Holy Saturday. It is not ritual. It is somehow lack of ritual, on today of all other days, that somehow gives all of life a ritualistic quality. All the objects of my small existence seem, just for that one day, to roll around the bottom of the empty drum of the universe making not quite as much noise as my soul feels that they each may deserve.
This Holy Saturday, perhaps all the more so.
This Holy Saturday we await not just tomorrow’s Sunday feast, but rather some future Sunday when we will have returned to life as it was – at least those of us who survive – or just maybe by then, that somehow future Sunday beyond the abyss of this strange unearthly time, we may have moved through this liminal space and have experienced a primal transformation, a rebirth, some kind of new humanity.