19 April 2014

Holy Saturday

Vincent van Gogh, Pieta (after Delacroix), 1889

This is the post I wrote 3 years ago on this very day - it is still very True to/for/of me...

Don't surrender your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you as few human
Or even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice so tender,
My need of God
Absolutely clear.

~ Hafiz

I confess I've always felt more comfortable with the atmosphere of Holy Saturday. Always troubled by the mental logistics (not the mention the suspension of disbelief) required for the Christian doctrine of the atonement (how could any father - divine or otherwise - put his son through crucifixion???), and equally troubled by the easy triumphalism of Easter Sunday, my God is always the Comforter, the Companion, yes, the Jesus on the road to Emmaus...

The essence of belief is hope, and it's not necessarily the thing with feathers, as much as the trust that in the darkest night there will be a dawn... Every day is a journey from darkness to light into darkness to light... This is the most basic rhythm of our human existence.

In the darkness is where we find our deepest fears - the most primal sense of 'What if the sun died in the night? What if daylight never again breaks?' - the fear that all I hold most dear is indeed lost... As Meister Eckhart realized, we all live under the umbra nihili, the shadow of nothingness, and as the clinically depressed know too well, it can be a crushing, heavy shadow.

Yet, it is in holding, and owning, those fears, sitting with them, that eventually faith and hope are born...
We have to go deeper into that emptiness,
then we will find beneath nothingness
the flame of love waiting to warm us.
John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, p. 33

And it's the nature of that love which shapes us...

as children it's the love of our parents - or lack of it - that gives us hope - or despair... 
as we grow up, it's the love of friends - or lack of it - that gives us meaning - or emptiness...
as adults it's the love of lovers/partners - or lack of it - that gives us stability - or fickleness...
and throughout our lives it's the love of self - or lack of it - that puts us in touch with the Other, be it human or divine - or leaves us doubting there is any such thing as love...

Love allows understanding to dawn,
and understanding is precious.
Where you are understood, you are at home.
John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, p. 36


  1. Although I'm more spiritual than religious (my words), I must say I have enjoyed your posts during Lent. They're very beautiful and it makes me take a step back and look at things from various perspectives and I like that. And the quotes and/or verses you have shared have been wonderful, very deep and meaningful. :-)

  2. Anonymous4:45 pm

    Thank you for this powerful post--reminding us of the solemnity and sacredness of the season...


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