Tumbling in the Sand
I think my favorite day of Holy Week is Saturday. I love Maundy Thursday and the footwashing and communion shared with a smaller number of people in the dim lighting of the evening, remembering the last night that all the disciples were together with Jesus at the meal.
I am always moved, transformed, convicted by Good Friday.
And OF COURSE Easter is awesome. You may have noticed from reading this blog (The Jabbok?, Dancing Dust, and Resurrection to name a few posts), I can’t really leave the resurrection image alone. Easter is the day I hope and long for.
But Holy Saturday is special.
Unlike many of my colleagues, I do not do an Easter Vigil. I’ve suggested it—softly, I confess. Not because I do not love the Easter Vigil: I do. It’s just, well, I love what I am freed to do on this Saturday an awful lot. And it is a busy day for me, full of preparation and activity that I like to think of as “sign action.”
Sign action is generally something done by the prophets to signify something else. Ezekiel loved sign action, and his signs were way out there! One of them involved making a complex grained bread (wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt), cooking it over cow dung (he talked God out of human feces), and then eating it to signify, as the Lord said,”Thus shall the people of Israel eat their bread, unclean, among the nations to which I will drive them.” There are a lot more sign actions right there in Ezekiel. Check more of them out in Ezekiel 4.
Anyway, back to Holy Saturday.
There’s something about the feeling of Holy Saturday: the lingering sounds of “Crucify him!” still hang in my mind, my emotions oddly marked from the reading of the passion narrative and the kneeling at the cross from the night before, a somberness filling the edges of my thoughts. At the same time, there is this hopeful expectation as Easter peaks in around the corners and over the edges.
It tends, that while I run around a lot this day, to be a quiet day. My “sign actions” are ones of quiet hope and expectation. I bake bread (not over dung, though) and wait for it to rise. I always plant something: pansies, sweetpeas—this year, I’ll repot an allium that is very ready for a repotting. I clean. I work on my sermon for Sunday. And, I go and help put the flowers out for Easter (if someone else doesn’t beat me to it).
The flowers have already been in the office for a couple of days waiting. Waiting in the boxes, slowly opening their blooms, peaking over the edges…just like Easter does while we walk to the cross, while we wait this day. I love the tension of joy peaking over our limitation and into our sorrow. I love the whiff of Easter lilies while the cross is shrouded in black. I love the liminal space between death and resurrection: it seems the time most filled with hope, creativity, and transformation.
As so, I will linger here today, waiting for the bread to rise, waiting for the seedlings to grow, waiting for the resurrection dawn and watching, in quiet amazement, what God can do with the in-between.