Nothing happens today. Jesus has been buried and the disciples are locked in the upper room. They are fearful for their own lives but more crucially all their hopes have been crushed. All they have been caught up in for the last three years is gone. There is nothing left to do but sit and grieve their beloved friend. Today is a day of nothingness.
But even in nothingness something is happening. In the Christian tradition Jesus goes to hell, a triumphant descent, bringing salvation to all the righteous who had died since the beginning of the world. Some have spoken of Jesus meeting Judas, their reconciliation and Judas becoming the first to know the new life in Christ. In the darkness of the tomb something deep is germinating.
And in churches, behind the scene much is happening, as flower arrangers descend and buildings are transformed, dressed ready for the Easter celebration. There is a sense of quiet excitement.
But we must be careful not to rush to soon away from the nothingness; it is a vital a part of this drama as any of the other days of this holiest of weeks. There is a danger in the need to be ready for the morrow that it is lost. Perhaps too we are uncomfortable with just being in the nothingness – we are more content when something is happening but pre-emptying the story runs the risk of missing its meaning.
The truth is much of life is lived in Holy Saturday. Too often we experience pain, hurt, upset and see no hope, no purpose no resolution. Like the disciples in the upper room, we feel locked in, cut off from hope and joy crushed. Well-meant, some want to tell us of hope, resurrection, new life but when you are living in Holy Saturday none of that makes sense and just makes me feel that you do not understand what I am experiencing.
Most helpful are those who will sit silently with you in the darkness, holding your hand perhaps, but not speaking, just content to be there. In the upper room the shared bereavement, that time of living without hope, is part of what forges the disciples together as a fellowship, is part of what, unknown to them, is preparing them for the unlooked-for new chapter they will need to face together.
Nothingness is something and needs to be valued for the experience that it is, not ignored nor talked away. Nothingness needs to be valued for itself, uncomfortable although it may be; this discomfort is part of the journey. It is a dis-service to try to “make it better”.
The deeper mystery is that even in nothingness, when all our foundations are gone and we feel we are in free fall, we are still held. Although we do not see it, and it can seem as if it is not there, we are still held by a Love that will not let us go – in life, in death, in life beyond death.