Holy Saturday: Anticipate Resurrection

Image: Anticipate Resurrection © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Holy Saturday:
Matthew 27.57-66 or John 19.38-42

On this Holy Saturday—this threshold day, this day betwixt—I am thinking about a visit I had with a friend one Lenten day a few years ago. We had planned to take a walk, but on the day of our walk, it rained. So we sheltered on a friend’s beautiful porch, taking a more stationery pilgrimage as we shared some of the terrain we had each crossed since our last visit. In the time that had passed between that visit and this one, both of our husbands had died, both too young.

As we talked, tea and coffee in hand and the rain drenching the gorgeous spring landscape around us, that porch became for me what Phil Cousineau calls a secret room. In his book The Art of Pilgrimage, Cousineau writes that in every sacred journey, there is a hidden space we must find, a place along the path where we will begin to understand the deep mystery of our pilgrimage. He writes,

Everywhere you go, there is a secret room. To discover it, you must knock on walls, as the detective does in mystery houses, and listen for the echo that portends the secret passage. You must pull books off shelves to see if the library shelf swings open to reveal the hidden room.

I’ll say it again: Everywhere has a secret room. You must find your own, in a small chapel, a tiny café, a quiet park, the home of a new friend, the pew where the morning light strikes the rose window just so.

As a pilgrim you must find it or you will never understand the hidden reasons why you really left home.

As the season of Lent comes to a close, has there been a secret room, a space that prompted a moment of insight or inspiration, of wisdom or connection or delight? Have you had an experience that gave you a window onto your path and helped you see it differently? How did that secret room help you understand why you set out on your journey? What gift did it offer for the road ahead?

Deep peace to you as Easter draws near.

What Abides, What Returns

Anticipate resurrection.
—Terry Tempest Williams

In a season of stunning sun
we have chosen the only day
of rain,
and so we shelter on this porch,
each with a cup in hand
and in our heart a hole
in the precise shape
of our beloved.

I have not come here
to compare notes,
that untimely word
still harsh in my ear

but simply
to sit together
in the stillness
at the edge of that wound,
the sound of our voices
a testament
to what endures,
to the unbearable
somehow borne.

Easter draws near
as we watch the rain.
We know the drama
and the pageantry
that lie ahead,
the commotion that is owed
to such a miracle.

Meanwhile, we go on
quietly raising the dead,
tending them as more
than a memory,
learning to live in
the curious marriage
of absence and presence
that settles into the bones
and the aching
but durable heart.

We know resurrection as something
not merely to be anticipated
but also daily lived
as we reckon with
what abides,
what returns
of the beloved
who cannot be unknown—
who, having passed into us,
will not be so easily shed.

Still, I think of Mary Magdalene
and the secret she carried
when she left
that empty tomb:
how resurrection is
a strange dance
of reunion and release,
how our loving
will always ask of us
a letting go,

yet in the asking
a promise
that what we love
knows how to find us,
even by the path
that will bear us
far away
from here.

—Jan Richardson

For previous reflections for Holy Saturday, visit Holy Saturday: Breathe.

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