Silence, grief, wonderment

By Ann Fontaine

Today the word is Silence. All the chaos and noise of Holy Week is stilled. Palm Sunday with its hosanna-ing where even the rocks cry out in praise is past. Tenebrae is over with–an earthquake of sounds in its last crashing cymbal. Maundy Thursday’s slopping of water on bare feet of resistant Peter, and its sharing a meal ended with the betraying Judas leaving in a flurry of shame. Good Friday has come and gone with its whipping and wailing and pounding of nails and last words. The sounds of the week resound through our souls. And now – silence.

Holy Saturday brings a Sabbath from noise. We sit in the stillness of grief wondering. Where has he gone? What has happened? How can this be?

Is it a time of rest as the Holy Saturday collect from the Book of Common Prayer proclaims?

O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Or is the Holy One working in Hell as the Apostle’s Creed states:

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, dead, and buried.

He descended into hell.

Is Jesus harrowing hell as it is sometimes called? Was he freeing those who died in slavery of mind, body, or spirit?

Holy Saturday is my favorite day in Holy Week. It is like a walk on the Oregon coastal beaches in early Spring or late Winter, a time of solitude. All the people are gone. The tides and waves are fierce and dangerous. The detritus of storms is scattered on the sand as high as the floods can rise. I walk in the rain and wind. Mostly it is gray and more gray – gray sand, gray clouds. The beach tells its own story of love and loss. The ocean called the Pacific is rarely safe. Sudden sneaker waves can sweep the unwary off their feet or worse. Once in a rare moment a flash of blue green glass proclaims a glass fishing float. It has traveled for years across the ocean from Japan. A glass ball blown by its maker years and miles ago reveals life beyond my little bit of beach.

This is Holy Saturday – a silent yet wild and fierce day of unknowing with hints of what has been and what is yet to come.

The Rev. Ann Fontaine, Diocese of Wyoming, keeps the blogs Green Lent and what the tide brings in. She is the author of Streams of Mercy: a meditative commentary on the Bible.

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