“So, nothing happens today right mom?” the seven-year-old quips, interrupting my thoughts. Although I know what he means, I want to unpack his question; I lean into the query. It’s because the ground of my soul knows that this is where it all happens in a decidedly certain way, for me, and perhaps for those first disciples. This is not the first time my day as a mother has been a Holy Saturday.
Just this past week I stare into an unplanned abyss; stunned. I find no words. Simply no words will come – I am speechless when the smell of death overwhelms my senses like a Tsunami. With most anyone willing, I love to talk about blessed assurance and where my story has led me. But when one of my children on the cusp of adulthood shares gritty details that spill out unarranged amidst this season of holy chafing in quarantine, my mind spins. I can only hear death sentences of impenetrable finality. Within the monastic walls of this lockdown there is suddenly a gaping void of the serene confidence I had envisioned would naturally unfold.
I sit in silence. I have no well-crafted words in the face of this. Yet in my silence, my mind is screaming, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Had I misunderstood how this vocation would play out, or where this call *(Galatians 2:20) could lead me? I feel the bite – the stinging questions of where I have failed, the reality of how broken I have been. I rehearse particular, epic moments of failure and fight the rising guilt.
I am the little girl again, first a daughter (then the mother). The complex memories of a girl-heart spiral; Confusion assaults my mind, and I feel my heart race head-into an emotional brawl. I resist the silence. I flail.
Where is my Jesus in this? My friend, my Abba, my hope, my Savior, where is he?
I feel the old, lonely shame slither and burrow a hole; right into my middle-aged motherhood. This is the very article I planned to leave behind with my childhood fears. I thought my faith would neatly circumvent all of this. I thought I could outrun this kind of blinding Holy Saturday bewilderment. What is this wasteland that makes me hesitate to stay still? I am tempted to agree and quip a childish, one dimensional response, “Nothing happens here.” I flail. I feel barren. I want to erase this. I want to neurotically clean the house. I want to go for a run. I want to blame, to hide, to busy, to distract myself far, far from this kind of pain.
Maybe it is here in the loss of my well-laid expectations dying right in front of me that I can be still – and still be receptive. All God has ever asked of me is receptivity. Openness to life isn’t just a phrase, it’s a way of life – a call to receive. To the degree that I have been receptive in the face of void and formless prospects, is the very same degree to which I have beheld the resurrection glory realities that eclipse the awful tombstone shadows of what all were sure was death.
I must invite Jesus into this stark, painful wasteland of my motherhood. I must let go, and just “be” – be still on the holy ground prepared for me – to sit and long in the intimate space of my sorrow and need. My need for a savior. This is the place to be receptive to the ways and will of God. Because isn’t it here – right on the teetering edge of it all – that Jesus is the greatest warrior? I am not alone.
He faces all of hell down to the very foundations of all time and history. Death is not the end; death will not have the victory. Transformative power now and forever has a name; his name is Jesus and he leads the way—he is the way—in the face of certain death and beyond the wide unknown.
*….so that it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. This life that I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me (Gal 2:20).