Saturday, April 07, 2012

holy saturday 2012

During Lent Facebook friend Stacey has been hosting a group for the church she serves and opened it to any interested party; she explained (Walter Brueggemann also has written a lot about this),
"Holy Saturday is that space between death and resurrection, between loss and recovery, between pain and joy. It's a liminal time, when an ending has happened but a new beginning has yet to take hold. A lot of our lives are lived in Holy Saturday time – a time of not knowing what comes next. ... if you can, find a few quiet moments to read this reflection and ponder:

• What is open and uncertain in my life?
• Where am I grieving? What losses am I living with?
• What are my "what next" questions?
• How am I living with uncertainty?
• Where am I experiencing God in the interim time?

As everyone discovers by the time they've lived into double-digits, we spend much of our lives on the limen, or threshold of neither still back where we had been nor quite yet where we're heading and hoping to be.

What is open and uncertain in my life?

Everything is in-my-face uncertain – employment, housing, income, community, opportunities...

What am I grieving? What losses am I living with?

Like everyone, many lost friends, a scant handful of lost opportunities (fewer than most people?), possibly lost years, though I've lived long enough to learn God wastes none of our experience so "lost years" may be a misnomer. I hesitate to make many losses public online since once it's out there, it's out of my grasp forever, even if I retrieve and delete it a few seconds later. Lost hope? With Easter on the way, how can I claim such a thing, but on the surface it looks that way. Every Easter memories of chanting the Exultet, of kindling the new fire at the Easter Vigil envelop me. Every Easter memories of guilt for wanting to participate more fully again return full force plus. Every Easter I remember all those "this next thing will work, this next thing will work, this next thing will work" I still haven't let go and especially "this Easter will be different, this Easter will be different, I'll finally be alive again..." Such loss of self, such distance from shelter, such proximity to death. The Renaissance documented people dying of grief. It's almost impossible to get beyond past losses and disappointments in a healthy way until you have something reasonably to take their place.

Especially the past two or three or four years are symptomatic. On the "optimal – balanced – strained – burnout – breakdown" continuum I am so at the end! I'm seeking community, inclusion, participation, and faithful proclamation. For me, everything else is ... adiaphora, maybe?

What are my "what next" questions?

It's close to impossible to ask those "what next" questions alone. One reason I'm in this decades-long liminal situation is that I've been journeying alone without anyone to caution, advise and guide me. My first questions are all about the mechanisms of survival—first physical and then the more essentially human aspect of community and participation. Everyone needs food, water, sleep, shelter, community and (hopefully) meaningful work, though it doesn't need to be and often can't be, won't be "meaningful employment." I need to know my life has value to others. I did not do all those years of school plus gain skills and experience in order to exist at a level basically congruent with the typical 8th grade dropout. As I pointed out in a guest blog I did for a friend from A Former City, "I've long had more than a clue about human behaviors, maybe especially in settings like churches and other organizations where a lot of the daily nitty-gritty gets done by volunteers, many of whom are willing but some of whose skills and abilities would be no more than marginally employable most places." Ten years ago at this time I'd almost finished the year-long Community Economic Development Program at Big State University. I'd assured them I'd find a way to take my new skills into the church if I didn't find employment through that program. North Park Church literally dropped from the sky into my life and then it. was. gone.

How am I living with uncertainty?

And I lot of what we do necessarily is future-oriented, one of many reasons we need Sabbath and Eucharist. A couple Wednesday evenings ago after finally setting my own pistons on the organ at Church up the Hill I've been attending more Sundays and Wednesdays than not, I expected to play and enjoy some of the Bach and Buxtehude I'd brought with me, but they fell dead and I won't try that again, at least not unless I have an upcoming performance. The magic – the life! – is in the conversational interaction between performer and audience, preacher and congregation, teacher and taught. Within extreme limits a person can theologize online in a somewhat abstract manner, but without context it doesn't fly very high, very far, or very long.

Life frequently breaks and unravels, but clearly my own life won't rebuild and can't reweave without local organic connections to community / communities and opportunities. Post-recall weeks became months (no big deal), then a couple of years (about to be expected). After my ignominious firing from We The People, followed by multiple firings (side note: that was not the entire story, since I was extremely successful in a handful of temporary gigs), trips to the day labor hangout, trips to the plasma center, friendships starting and then suddenly erased as the years stacked up even more until finally they've become two decades. I've done my part and now I only can receive life as gift. Sometimes I imagine "if I were 20 years younger," but I was 20 years younger and it made no difference. Sadly, I strongly suspect had I been a guy much of this would have been different and we're talking about the mainline church and the late 20th, early 21st century. But no one really knows.

Fr Thomas Keating says, "every emotion has an accompanying commentary." I'm stuck in the commentary without the emotions, yet I'm well aware that finding safe, supportive, uncritical community is the key to recovering both a life of fuller participation and a life of richer emotions. People heal by telling their stories, but they also heal by doing, by getting involved in life again; you need both/and. When you attend a graduation or ordination, the ordinand or graduate always thanks everyone, always explains they could not have gotten there alone and they didn't get there by themselves. "Stored value" (as in a stored value gift or credit card) from earlier occasions, times and places where I had sufficient human and other support mightily has helped carry me; the current balance is minus zero and I cannot refill it on my own.

* Where am I experiencing God in the interim time?

Partly in remembering what was, in trusting an open future and in observing people around me and (yes!) online, too. Participation in weekly Sunday, sometimes weekday Eucharist... attempting to eat reasonably well and sleep well, too.

My life cries out for resurrection!!!


  1. "Holy Saturday is that space between death and resurrection, between loss and recovery, between pain and joy. It's a liminal time, when an ending has happened but a new beginning has yet to take hold."
    Thanks for so beautifully summing up this period of my life, which I won't be sorry to see the end of... I hope things start to look up for you soon, as well.

  2. Thanks for visiting... peace and hope to both of us; peace and hope to the world.


thanks for visiting—peace and joy to all of us!