When I was a kid, Easter wasn’t even an entire day, really.
It lasted only a couple of hours on those Sunday mornings, beginning with waking up to dive into all that candy stuffed into the basket left for me on the kitchen table and ending just a few hours later, when I walked out of church. When you’re just coming up in the world, Easter seems a little overblown.
After you’ve come up, though? Well, then things get different.
You get to that age after you find out the Easter Bunny’s just a poor man’s Santa but before you start sneaking chocolate into your own kids’ baskets, and Easter maybe dims a little more. Maybe it’s the time of year that does it. It’s springtime when Easter rolls around, and everything is new and fresh and drowned in color, and what’s on your mind is more the rising temperature than a rising Lord. You take it for granted that the Miracle happened. The stone got rolled away and the angel said Look inside and inside was empty. You hear things like that too much, sometimes it doesn’t seem so special anymore.
But then something new happens, usually once you get some age and you find that you’re starting to attend more funerals than weddings. Life takes on a different look right about then. The shine starts to wear off. You start thinking less about where you’re at and more about what’s laying on ahead.
You maybe discover what Easter means for the first time in your life.
I wouldn’t say that’s where I am personally, but I’d say it’s near enough. To me, Easter is the holiest time of the year. It’s a period to be quiet and listen—days to both despair and hope. That last point is what’s been on my mind.
For a lot of the religiously minded, Easter is really just three days rather than one. It begins on Good Friday, when we pause in our otherwise busy and stressful lives to consider this person who was both God and man, dying such a horrible death, setting himself apart from God so we would never have to ourselves. It ends the following Sunday with that empty tomb full of promise—proof enough for any believer that death has lost its sting.
It’s that Saturday that I want to talk about, though—
that Saturday between the first Good Friday and that first Easter. The day between all that despair and all that new hope. Nothing much gets said about that day, and so it’s all left to some imagination and hard thinking. I think about the Marys and the disciples, all shut up inside somewhere, hiding and grieving. I think about them all trying to hold onto a faith that maybe can’t help but be slipping away, searching for any reason at all to believe, and I think about how that seems an awful lot like what most of us feel everyday.
That first Saturday? That’s our lives.
Those hours are our years, ones spent trying to hope and understand. Trying to find the reasons behind the horrible things that happen to us all. It’s a tough thing, this business of living, especially when you put a God whose ways are so far apart from our own at the center of it. We stand in the present now just as the disciples stood in it then, and the choice we have is the same as theirs. We can look back to despair, or we can look ahead and hope. It’s a daring hope, no doubt, one that seems near to impossible. And yet that is where we all must turn, and that is what we all must cling to—that stone rolled away. That empty tomb. Because we can do without a great many things in life and still call ourselves living, but we cannot go without hope.