I have long been fascinated with Easter Saturday. It never feels like a typical Saturday. It may be a day just to regather, recover or even do household chores. But there is a subliminal sense, to me anyway, that this day is special. It is a day that gives space to the deep reflecting of Easter; a somber day; a day of shock; a day too that is a connecting day between the bookends of Good Friday and Easter; a day connecting grief and joy. And, therefore it is a day that enables us to meditate and make sense of what we have experienced and what we can look forward to.
In ‘The Age’ newspaper (April 18) Molly Roberts wrote about the burning of the Notre-Dame Cathedral and how it is captivated so many around the world. And she asks: ‘Why is this loss so affecting? What is it about a building, and this building in particular, that generates the tide of tears, tweets, reflections and charitable contributions?’ And in grappling with this question she suggests that it may be because we are attached to old things, because they reassure us that when we experience death, not everything dies with the deceased. And so old things give us continuity and a connection to those before and after us; the structures like Notre-Dame that survive us all ‘acts as an anchor when life surges by too fast’. And so I pondered whether the ‘old things’ around us are something of what Easter Saturday provides in helping connect us to history and in giving us stability for what might evolve in the future. A connecting day.
Thinking further on this, I am reminded of the Lebanese Christian Kahlil Gibran who in his beautiful poetic book called ‘The Prophet’ wrote of marriage and of close intimate relationships:
‘You were born together and together you shall be for evermore. You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days. Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God. But … let there be spaces in your togetherness. Let the winds of the heavens dance between you … let there be a moving sea between the shores of your souls … give your hearts but not into each other’s keeping for only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together yet not too near together … For the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and cypress grow not in each other’s shadow’
Easter Saturday is that day. It enables us to keep the two pillars of our faith – the cross and the resurrection – separate and not too near together. Easter Saturday is the shadow that encourages us to ponder and reflect and think deeply about the connection between what Jesus’ death means and what his risen state too can mean as we head toward our future.
With the bombings in Sri Lanka and ANZAC day swirling in our thinking, we need Easter Saturday and days like it, to stop, gather, reflect and move forward finding again the anchors that hold us and keep us steady. Our prayers go to all who grieve at this time: may their Easter Saturday be not too long, and may they and us all find solace and comfort in the knowledge of something new, a hope, that will rise in the ashes of despair.