Easter is great, no question, but today, the day before, is a day to hold our grief. Maybe the day before, the best thing we can say to each other is, “I’m sorry.”
I’m sorry that the kindest, gentlest teacher who didn’t take any nonsense, either, is dead.
There had been this moment, when maybe everything was going to be all right.
There was a moment when Pilate said, “It’s clear that he’s done nothing wrong, let alone anything deserving death. I’m going to warn him to watch his step and let him go.” (Luke 23:13-16, The Message)
The crowd declined and replied, in a frenzy, “Kill him.” (Luke 23:18, The Message)
There is a way that we are hopeful that maybe we can miss the worst of it. Today, this word, is for those of you who are in the middle of the worst of it.
I’m sorry. Not, I’m sorry, like it’s my fault, but I am sorry that it happened this way. I’m sorry that it hurts. I’m sorry that we can’t go over and around grief, but that, at times, must go through it. (Let me be clear: when I talk about no way through, I am not talking about harmful behavior that others may enact on you. The way out there, as you can find it, is what keeps you safe.)
I am talking more specifically about the grief that lives inside you, in your body and your skin. Sometimes, such as when we observe it, the grief can be for Jesus and for how long its taking to build Beloved Community. Other times, and you will know if this is you, the trauma you carry in your body will feel so thick and wet and heavy, you will wonder how you are meant to go on. It will feel as though there has been a death in the family, but in the most problematic and unresolvable way, the death is you.
Holy Saturday is your holiday. There is no bright side to being dead. There is no solution. There is no infomercial selling a quick fix if you would only just call now. But there might be a speck of curiosity. What now? What’s next? It turns out that even as you experience the dead feelings inside you, part of you has kept on, against all predictable odds. The part of you that has no answer can sink into today, with its short horizon.
Know that the problem with being alive is that it doesn’t last forever. The point of Easter is that being dead doesn’t last forever either. Even though the kindest, wisest Teacher died, something remains. If that something had been obliterated, our sense of the observance of this day would be much different. It would simply end. One of the possibilities, tomorrow, because grief deserves its holy day, is that you can see what remains inside you.
It might be a long healing journey that you undertake. It might not be all at once.
On Easter morning, the angel asked this question, “Why are you seeking the Living One in a place of the dead?”
It might be that life, still and always, can come out of the place of the dead.
This might be true, even when the self-protective part of us thinks it already knows what is possible and keeps saying, “Nothing, nothing, nothing is possible.”
After the women discovered the empty tomb, even the truth that they held did not liberate their community immediately. The followers of Jesus who weren’t present at the discovery, “heard their stories as fiction, a lie; they didn’t believe a word of it. (Luke 24:10-11, The Voice).
Sometimes your grief will make you focus on it and expect you to ignore other information. It’s okay to do that when you need to and take the attentive kind of care of it that you would take of someone who was sick or hurt, maybe close to death.
On Holy Saturday, I’m here to acknowledge your grief and tell you that I’m sorry it hurts.