This entry is from an author whom I have admired, and whose words have encouraged me in my personal safari through the wilderness of life. I hope that you are blessed by them.
from The Liturgical Year by Joan Chittister (Thomas Nelson)
Hope is a Slippery Thing
Holy Saturday is a day nobody talks about much in the liturgical year.
There are no public ceremonies, no particular liturgies to interrupt the sense of waiting and vacuity that mark the day. For the most part, we are simply left on our own on Holy Saturday. And yet every human being who has ever walked the earth has known what the emptiness of Holy Saturday is about.
Everyone who has ever lived, who will ever live, will someday undergo a Holy Saturday of our own. Someday we will all know the power of overwhelming loss when life as we know it changes, when all hope dies in midflight. Then, and only then, can we begin to understand the purpose of Holy Saturday.
The importance of Holy Saturday lies in its power to bring us to the kind of faith the spiritual masters call mature. Holy Saturday faith is not about counting our blessings; it is about dealing with darkness and growing in hope. Without the Holy Saturdays of life, none of us may ever really grow up spiritually.
Hope, you see, is a slippery thing, often confused with certainty, seldom understood as the spiritual discipline that makes us certain of only one thing: in the end, whatever happens will be resolved only by the doing of the will of God, however much we attempt to wrench it to our own ends. We have seen, for instance, how often what is dark leads nevertheless to the light. For some, there is no commitment to good until they have really experienced evil. For others, faith cannot flower until they realize that despair has not triumphed. So there is hope here, too, surely.
There is the hope that we will learn the meaning of hope, that we will give ourselves to the certainty that in the end God will work God’s will, despite how much anyone tries to subvert it.
There is the hope that God is in the twilight parts of life as well as in its lucent ones, in the night of the soul as well as in the dawn of life, since both light and dark, night and dawn belong to God.
There is the hope that we will eventually cease calling only what we ourselves want as good and begin to recognize that good can come in strange guises, in shepherds and maidens, in fishermen and tax collectors, in presumptuous thieves and cowardly ones. We can hope to stop painting our world in our own colors alone.
There is the hope that we can finally find security in the fact of God’s understanding of weakness: Go and sin no more ( John 8:11 NKJV), we hear again. Today you will be with me in Paradise (Luke 23:43), we remember said to a thief on a cross. This is the hope that comes out of the icon of mercy as well as in what the world calls strength.
There is the hope that we can begin, finally, to see the world as God sees the world and so trust that God is indeed everywhere in everything at all times in the abstruse as well as the luminous, whether we ourselves can see the hand of God in this moment or not.
To be able to come to that point before the beginning of the Easter Vigil, before the cantor sings the Exultet into the darkness, is what Holy Saturday is really all about. Then loss is gain, and silence is a very clear message from God.