grief and Good: a good friday reflection.

Today is Good Friday. No matter how much my faith has shifted over the years, I still treasure the movement of Friday-Saturday-Sunday in the life of Jesus and the complicated, messy, beautiful, unexpected story of Hope that we celebrate on Easter.

After three visits to Israel and Palestine over the past several years, Holy Week has become much more meaningful to me—mostly way beyond words.

I’ve written so many things over the years for these special days that I didn’t think I’d share anything new this year. I’ve been out of town all week for spring break with no kids or dads to take care of (my brother came to stay with my dad, who is in home hospice at our house). It was a wonderful week for me to take a breath, be less people-d, and learn to kite surf (whoa, that was a steep learning curve but it came together and it was so worth it).

I had just enough distance from Holy Week to have it in my peripheral vision and a safe distance from my heart.

However, when I got on the plane to come home this morning I could feel the reality of the Story come sneaking in.

Walking alone through the airport, amidst the hubbub and audio announcements and people rushing by me (after raising 5 kids, I have an uncanny ability to tune most everything out!), my attention finally turned to Jesus and Holy Week. I was thinking about how just a few days ago, there was the joy of Palm Sunday, the hope of a king, a messiah, a savior-from-the-grips-of-injustice. As the week progressed, things got weirder and weirder, worse and worse. Predictions of death, washing of feet, sweating blood in gardens, arrested and tried and sentenced and crucified.

All that hope, lost.

The vulnerability of it all never ceases to amaze me.

In the hustle bustle of the airport I felt tears welling up and I started to cry, Good Friday and the reality of my dad’s cancer hitting me in a new way. I know he’s been on borrowed time since Thanksgiving, but the past few weeks there’s been a slow decline.

I realized, too, how these days any regular pain seems to be tangled up with the generalized pain and trauma of escalated violence and brokenness in our world. We’re all aware of it in new ways. Right underneath tears for my dad, the reality of the pain of our world came sweeping in, too.

This big picture strife is not just in the air; we’re carrying in our hearts and our minds and our bodies. We can’t escape it, the toll of the division that’s between religious groups, lobbies, and political parties. The realities of racism and shootings and fear of what could be next. Violence against women and the vulnerable, the marginalized on top of poverty, pain, war, grief, and the media’s constant onslaught from every angle.

From the ups of a few days ago to the heaviness in my chest today, I am reminded how Good Friday is yet another good teacher.

A reminder.

A marker.

A story that keeps getting told for a reason.

Death’s reality.

Living in the now and the not yet.

Dashed dreams.

Harsh realities.

Painful losses.

Unexpected twists and turns.

Broken relationships.

Injustice upon injustice.

Real life.

The story of Jesus is the story of humanity.

And yes it’s all one big fat paradox.

Today, I’m glad for it all.


For the vulnerability of Friday’s cross.

For the darkness of waiting on Holy Saturday.

For life rising from the death on Sunday.


For the tenderness of this time with my daddy.

For the grief that comes in swells already.

For the stories that will live on from these past 4 months.


For the ability to feel the pain of the world’s suffering.

For the lament that can’t be silenced.

For the healing that is indeed happening that deserves celebration, no matter how small or big.


For what Good Friday can teach us.

For what Holy Saturday can teach us.

For what Easter Sunday can teach us.


For the grief and the Good.

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Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

One Comment

  • Thanks for sharing this and your own vulnerability in talking about your Dad. A good reminder on what can be learned from Holy Week!


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