From Exile to Hope: Holy Saturday

From Exile to Hope: Holy Saturday

April 06, 2023

Holy Saturday

By: Rev. Dr. Mary Lautzenhiser Bellon

Some years ago, I wrote this poem. I have shared it now and again with friends. But it is my best effort, I believe, on the nature of Holy Saturday as we await Easter morning. In our tradition, sometimes we overlook Holy Saturday. But if you remember your Apostle’s Creed, you know that some ancient traditions suggested that on Holy Saturday, Jesus descended to hell and redeemed it. This is sometimes called “the harrowing of hell.”  What a tremendous hope. What an astonishing thing.  May you be blessed in this season in which we long for His presence.  May joy be yours on Easter morning. 
Holy Saturday
His last thought before darkness
a sweep of the mind, empty,
and the pure pleasure of nothing –
before that – a commitment,
fully into holiness,
into the hands of an abundant grace
and forgiveness, a thing complete,
so abiding calm while his mouth 
drank in the sweet wine of eternity,
after the terrible thirst, after that.
I think it must have been so quiet
in heaven, when God came home
dragging with him the souls
who had been lost, carrying them
on his shoulder and over his back
one by one, up from all pure lost-ness
into heaven and such still silence,
nobody wailing or weeping but held now
in the abiding, in the coming home.
For three days, he carried the lost
and shut the door on hell, such grace,
given now to a communion, that paradise
of tasting wine with love
and all the bread leavening like a perfume,
everyone gaining strength again,
the ordeal over, suffering maturing, rising,
holding all the worlds in place
with a silence to dissolve fear or separateness.
That was the same silence into which he slipped
after his body became the wooden beams
upon which he was nailed –
the life of the tree ministering to his need
to grow something more than endings,
and leaning out of darkness,
after the human hewed tomb,
after the work of redeeming hell,
he dropped the cloths that cased his limbs
and walked forth to call the world home,
meeting Mary and Peter and Thomas,
and appearing to many, to the thousands,
whose voices became unintelligible to ordinary life
speaking a language of mysterious grace
in which everything comes home
in which everyone comes home
in which the time is fully come. 

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