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Holy Saturday 2014

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Holy Saturday 2014

I have been with many who have died.

The loudness of absolute silence,

a bottomless emptiness,

is what is experienced with the dead.

The heart can reflect this,

for a living presence,

a warmth,

felt even if taken for granted

is now cold and silent.

In our culture here in the United States we don’t experience death the way it is experienced in third world countries. Places where death is much more common, not hidden away for the most part in nursing homes or hospitals. While it is true that children die, accidents happen, as well as violence, it is still not an everyday event in the vast majority of lives of those who live in first world countries. True we see a great deal of violence on the news, but it is removed and can even be viewed on some level as entertainment, as harsh as that may sound……yet we have to protect ourselves from this paradox. In our media we can swim in violence, but in our everyday lives, for the most part, it is reserved as a news item, not as a personal experience. Though sad to say, even in countries where there is plenty, violence is an everyday reality.

However, all of us most likely have experienced the death of a loved one, or we have come close to death ourselves. The deeper we love another, the more all encompassing our inner suffering. So in fact, no matter where we live, we all in different degrees experience the pain of loss. For unless one dies very young, this is an experience that is unavoidable…. as well as is the reality of our own deaths. When someone dies, for them, the universe ends. Each of us one day will end, how do we deal with that reality?

To think of a cold tomb, pitch black, with a huge stone rolled over its entrance can be terrifying for some, uncomfortable for others, and for the very few I believe, a comfort.

In the late 60’s there was a theological fad called “The death of God movement”. Books were written, I read a few, I found them claustrophobic in the spiritual sense, though at the same time fascinating reading. The secular city for the vast majority of people is a disappointment, and not enough for the deep longings of our heats and souls. Longings I believe that are placed there as a beacon, something for us to seek out on an ever deeper level.

While it is true that each of us experiences our lives as the true center on which everything else revolves around…. we know that it is not true as well. We think of ourselves as being part of a culture, family, religion, political party, so there is also an impersonal aspect in how we look at ourselves, as merely one of many. So when we hear of the death of someone we don’t know, or barley knows, or someone who is not important to us…. it is no big event. Yet a life has ended, a universe as experienced by the deceased is no more.

So when we ponder the death of Christ this Holy Saturday, what is it we ponder, as well as what it all means? If in fact the Christian revelation is true, meaningful, and real? When we look upon the cross, it is our soul that Christ bore, our sins, failures, sufferings, and yes our death. So not only do we meditate on the “Death of God”, Jesus in the tomb, it is also our death, each one of us, not as a group, but individually, as one day we will become a cold corpse, something that needs to be buried or burned to ash.

So with Christ we do die, or will die, or both or realities at the same time for all of us; even if hard to truly understand. Each of us, again, difficult to comprehend, is God’s only son and daughter. We are not part of a group, but seen as the only one. The more loving a person is, the more present they can be with others, though it is always one person at a time. We see someone before us, we can be with them, or our minds can be in ‘other-where’. It is easy to become lost the past, or ‘some-where’ else in the present, or projecting ourselves into a future that we worry about, ‘any-where’ but the present, with this person, at this particular time. In the Christian revelation God is present ‘everywhere’, the same way we are present ‘somewhere’. When we can actually achieve it, this full presence to reality as it unfolds before us.

For Christ, our death has happened, when we die (on the day of our deaths) with Christ, we will understand that it has always been so. Christ living in us, through us. In actuality because of the intensity of his love, becomes us. Each person carries a heavy burden; Christ took up that burden, our sufferings and our deaths. To understand this reality, that can take a lifetime to understand even partially; can lead us to look at others differently, for as we contemplate the death of Jesus, we also contemplate the death of all others. As when we pray in Christ, we become all others, we are one. Yet unique as well in the Father’s eyes, for we are each his only beloved son and daughter.

So we wait, as we often do in our lives, in sorrow and in darkness. As well as in coldness; in both our inner and outer worlds, yet with faith intact, we embrace all that life entails, for Christ is with us, one with us…. is us. Within our lives, there is the seed of resurrection, a reality often hard to believe in, yet the New Testament if believed to be trustworthy, allows us to believe that ‘Christ with us” is the deepest reality of all, the true center from which we can live our lives.

Edited by markdohle
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