“Our brokenness is always lived and experienced as highly personal, intimate, and unique. I am deeply convinced that each human being suffers in a way no other human being suffers.”
~ Henri Nouwen
Today is Holy Saturday. The day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday and the one that gets skipped over the most. It’s a day of lament, grief, darkness, of living in the reality of death, disappointment, pain, and not knowing the end of the story.
It’s a day of waiting.
It’s a day of disillusionment.
It’s a day of humanness.
This past week I was in a conversation with my college-aged son talking about grief and pain. Our family is in the thick of it right now, and honestly, yesterday for Good Friday I was thinking—“I can’t do more death right now. I just can’t.” The weight of the loss of our youngest son has been getting heavier and heavier all week, and I was reminded of how many people we know who have died right around the time of Holy Week over the years. What is that all about? I am not sure, but I have been heavy with the reality of our mortality and still, every day, I wonder “Are we sure we haven’t just been dreaming all this and it’s not real? It just can’t be.” But it is. This week, that feeling has been stronger than ever. In my conversation with Jonas we talked about how hard it is to truly just live with the pain and not try to skip over it, numb it out, avoid it, minimize it, do-almost-anything-to-get-to-a-better-spot-in-the-moment.
I shared how I know when I am doing it. Here’s the sure sign--instead of putting a period at the end of some of my sentences, I put a comma and a “but….” after it. I am hurting, but I am so grateful for all of you home right now. I am so sad, but at least I’m not the only one. I am so mad, but I know he didn’t mean to hurt us. I am so worn out by grief,but I am glad to have such a good support team who love me.
I am a master at “but…”
Hope is my favorite word.
In the middle of the darkest of dark nights I can find good.
Yet, I am ever reminded how important it is to get better at putting a period at the end of sentences when owning my story, my pain, my reality.
That it’s okay to just say it, period.
Whatever the feelings are, whatever our story is, with no commas, no “buts”, no clauses that we add on to them to make sure that we soften the blow.
Jonas and I talked about how freaking hard that is to do! It’s so easy to say, but in the moment the clauses come out so freely. They protect us from the magnitude of the pain. They are a buffer.
It makes me think of the simplest sentence in the Bible, John 11:35, that says so much: “Jesus wept.”
Most of us know the phrase that author and preacher Tony Campolo is known for saying–“It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.”
Today, this Holy Saturday, I know a lot of you aren’t feeling too holy. Easter’s weird after a faith deconstruction and life right now is a big weird blur. No matter where we’re each coming from today, I know this for myself–as much as every part of me wants to add “buts” and gratitudes onto my pain, the symbolism of this day reminds me that it’s okay just to put a period on the sentence.
I am wrought with grief.
My son is dead.
I want my old life back.
I don’t need to put commas in every sentence.
Today is a day for honoring our pain, letting others honor theirs, and honoring the world’s pain.
We are all suffering differently right now in the midst of this global pandemic. Despite the difference in our resources, socioeconomics, stories, realities–each of our grief’s are unique. But we share one thing in common with all of humanity—death and loss is a part of life. We will never be able to make sense of it, and as much as we like to think that “Easter Sunday” helps fill in every blank, we must not forget that after the resurrection, humanity continued to suffer, confusion still abounds, and the story is still really weird.
Because the human story is really weird.
It always has been, it always will be.
There’s so much that’s beyond us, out of our control, that we will never be able to make sense of.
I hate that part.
And I love that part, too.
I don’t want to “wait in darkness” today, truly.
I just want to get better and better at putting a period at the end of my sentences.
Love from Colorado this Holy Saturday, Kathy