The most recent expansion of my celebration of the Easter season began when I learned that the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter was called Holy Saturday and could be understood as a continuation of Good Friday. Good Friday has been my favorite church service of the year for a long time, because it is so different from other services. With the goal of experiencing what it was like for those actually present at Jesus’ crucifixion and burial, there is greater space for sadness, grief, longing, and uncertainty. I experience a profound weightiness in the extinguishing of lights throughout the service; the waiting in silence at the end of the service before leaving as you feel led; and the deliberate lack of acknowledgement that Easter is coming.
Holy Saturday creates space for reflection on what it was like for Jesus’ followers the day after his death and burial. Sadness, grief, fear, disorientation, anger. How they must have felt shaken to their very core.
The events of the past few years—global, national, local, and personal—have both prepared me for such a day and also made such a remembrance more important, salient, and poignant for me. The sadness for all of the pain in the world. The grief for the loss of loved ones, jobs, homes, relationships, security. The fear in the waiting and not knowing if a loved one will survive an illness or injury, a natural disaster or an act of violence. The disorientation of having what you thought you knew, had held so dear, and had taken for granted being challenged. The anger at ongoing injustice. I know I am not alone in this, and perhaps this provides us with not only more ways to enter into the experience of Holy Saturday, but also more of a need to do so. I am grateful to have times set aside specifically to do so, if I will only partake.
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Justin T. Neiman Westbrook
Justin T. Neiman Westbrook, Ph.D., is a Teaching Psychologist at the Internal Medicine Clinic at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland, OR, who helps people with a range of mental health issues, as well as with issues in daily living, including spiritual concerns and self-care. Justin serves as Eden Spiritual Care's secretary/treasurer.