It is the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, a strange day, liminal time. It was always hard for me to know how to feel on this day. Ever practical, I would be properly solemn on Good Friday but on Saturday I would say I knew how this story turned out and there were things to be done – eggs to be dyed and braided bread to be baked and, in the time when I was going to church, candles and lilies to be arranged and potted flowers to be put out for the children.
This year I found myself thinking about the company around Jesus, both men and women. These people had witnessed the worst that human beings can do to one another – violence, betrayal, torture, and brutal death. In the hours that followed, their grief would have mingled with fear. They needed to honor and bury the dead but they also would have wondered if they should leave, find a place of safety, regroup somewhere else. They would not have trusted anyone they met and would have feared an attack upon themselves at any moment. Anger, panic, suspicion, distrust even of one another, would have further disoriented them. They would have felt the extremes of love and grief and fear, their reality suspended and confused, all of life turned upside-down.
Within the certainty of liturgy, all will come right in a matter of hours and in the story told for centuries the happy ending makes the intervening time seem short, almost inconsequential, a good time to get the lamb in to marinate. This year as I shop for feta cheese and fragrant dill, I think of how this works in daily life. I think of those for whom the hours of Saturday have lengthened into decades. Those who, because of crime, abuse, hate, bigotry, or war, have witnessed the violence human beings can inflict on one another and have not found anything redemptive in it.
Sunday will arrive, the miracle will happen, ready-or-not-here-I-come. The liturgy keeps things moving in a reassuring cycle of lows and highs, everything marked on the calendar in different colors. But in the life that begins again on Monday, everything is all mixed up and Saturday seems long, lonely, bereft, and very human.