Holy Saturday is a day of quiet anticipation, a kind of limbo, when we are suspended between death and life.
It is a day that invites me to remember times when I have lived in that liminal space between death and life. Those are usually times when I have failed at something and have taken a step back to regroup—or have been so devastated by disappointment that I am incapable of moving forward and need to pause to pull myself together.
The Holy Saturday experience is a model for living in trust, believing that all those pauses in my life—those times of disappointment and loss—are really stepping stones to something new and different.
Richard Rohr, in Everything Belongs, uses the image of Jonah inside the whale to describe that pause.
We must go inside the belly of the whale for a while. Then and only then will we be spit upon a new shore and understand our call.
Rohr’s words remind me to ponder those times of transition, when I was suspended between death and new life, and how they turned out to be springboards for a deeper understanding of my call.
The story of Jonah has always been a favorite because I relate to his attempts to escape his call, thinking he could outrun God. I, too, tried to outrun God. But even as a young woman, I imagined Jonah shaking his head at me and saying, “Learn from me. You can’t outrun God.”
Surrender is the word I associate with Jonah, but I was taught never give up. Like Jonah, giving in to God was a hard lesson for me to learn.
Over the years, though, I have had quite a few experiences of being inside the belly of the whale, suspended between what was and what will be— opportunities to throw my hands up in surrender and admit that God holds all the cards, to accept life as it is instead of how I wanted it to be.
Actually, I am in one of those times right now. The nonprofit where I work recently merged with a larger organization and we are assuming a new name and new identity. What has been will be no more—and what will be has yet to be revealed.
We are in transition.
Letting go of what was can be a challenge, especially for those who have a long history with our organization and feel invested in what we have built. Disappointment at losing what was and fear of the unknown future can create anxiety.
Accepting change and adjusting our expectations is a process that takes time.
Holy Saturday extends the invitation to enter into that process of transformation from death to new life—looking back with gratitude for what has been, letting go of expectations connected with the past, accepting what is and looking forward to what will be.
I pray for the grace to let go of the past so that I can welcome new life.