The English language has two terms which seem to have the same meaning:” loneliness” and “solitude”. Both translate into “being alone”; yet, depending upon the context, it is more than just this.
Loneliness means “feeling lonely”; solitude is a loneliness sought, desired, almost an achievement for a serious spirituality. Both imply silence, probably, and the absence of people… however, the context says it all.
It might be a mistake to approach today as only a day to face our fears of death, disease or pain, or to unwanted loneliness. Today, Holy Saturday, may or may not include the above. The existential reality of today is that Holy Saturday is a liturgical day, which only makes sense if it is interpreted from this clue: a response to a personal call and a follow-up process.
In its historical moment Jesus’ death was important only for those who followed Jesus. It was a victory for those who persecuted him; also could have meant nothing for many, because the vast majority were not in the complex network that led Jesus to the grave.
These days, it is our personal history, and the impact of our decisions and lifestyle in our historical moment, which are at stake.
Let´s allow Jesus to bring us closer to the light of his own experience, in order to help us understand and welcome our own.
I, personally, like to ask him, consulting the texts which we have as his legacy (the Gospels and other writings): what was it that gave him the strength to reach that which we are contemplating these days, again, with routine perhaps, or with ‘astonishment’ once more?
And the answer is forceful and unique: the rock, the refuge, the light … the perfume which permeated his life was his confident relationship with his Abba. Even atheists in some way relate to God, but the secret here, and in all relationships, is Trust.
Many of us have a great ability to trust deeply, sleepy or buried. Without judging the causes nor the circumstances, today the Crucified invites us to remember, as did the women that first holy Saturday, in the circle of disciples, each one personally, and we here now, the history of our relationship with Him: how we met him, what relationship we have had, how we care for and sustain it, and, why it is today that we feel empty and alone; or maybe not. Many of us have perhaps overcome this phase, and seek solitude because it dwells within us, accompanies us, and provides confidence. It’s a gift.
When the relationship ceases to be one-on-one, and in total trust, the balance is lost. We see this in any type of human relationship: the wound which produces hemorrhage, sometimes unstoppable, usually occurs when we stop trusting in people, or, they stop trusting in us. When this occurs everything changes, hardens, cracks; the same occurs in our relationship with God.
We were not taught to relate to God with confidence, but rather with moral observances and liturgies which today say very little to many people. Today we are invited to place and leave in the grave that which is inert, and which, at the time time, causes inertia.
We also see the pain and the death that we have caused to mother earth, the one who sustains us, upon whom life depends in its many forms. The earth seems to have lost her balance due to our unbalanced relationship with her. We have used and abused her in countless different ways.
The earth defends itself today and is giving us a lesson which will change history in all its dimensions. It is not a punishment. It could be regarded rather as a reaction which serves as a sort of wake-up call for us regarding what we have not been able to do for the earth, due to selfishness. Aspects such as protecting life, biodiversity, and more, are not toys for the wealthy. It has to do with life, without which there is only death.
These days of confinement are like a long Saturday of pain. The fragrance of the perfume which we like so much has lost the aroma. We have buried Love. The lover who taught us to love life, to respect the earth, to honor people, God and ourselves, has been placed in the tomb.
Following the Nazarene enabled us to make important decisions in many moments of our youth and adult life. Some, as married and with strong social commitments; others, as consecrated, leaving family, career, city … to go after someone whom today we are invited to contemplate in the tomb.
Our superficial side reminds us that this is a day of passage, en route, in preparation for the celebration of the Easter Vigil, of the Sunday meal.
It would be a huge mistake to confine this day to only that! I understand that today, Holy Saturday, is one of the most meaningful days of the year.
From the liturgical context we are invited to look at our life without God. That is why this day unifies “loneliness and solitude”, that is: feeling lonely and meaningless if He is not there, and in search of this internal/indwelling silence which confirms that He always is and continues to be.
And we are also invited to look at what or who is in the grave. Maybe there we have put the God in whom we no longer believe. Or, perhaps we also want to place in that grave a dead institution… to face the next step: namely, that of awaiting the first glimpses of dawn to set out on the path, tomorrow.
Today is a day to bury our mistrust!
Jesus awaits us today, just for a few hours, in this hell which, once and for all, we have to shake from us by saying goodbye to our lack of trust. For that lack, is at the core of our loneliness.
In just a few hours, as we know, everything changes and acquires the color of life! Unimaginable if we have not buried the dead we have been carrying.
Welcoming my own loneliness with Christian hospitality is a true act of charity. Only if I accept mine, am I able to be a companion of other solitudes. Learning to accept the emptiness left by the lack of confidence of loved ones, or important people in my life, and bury the gaps which have resulted, is absolutely crucial.
The unusual thing is that the tomb of Jesus is in a garden. Now, in springtime, the perfume of the garden blooming, with the birds and insects recreating life with their activity … everything is bursting forth with life.
When we regain confidence, it is easy to overlook and even to dismiss the grave which created mistrust.
Today we are invited to resume a personal relationship which we have had in the grave, and, to take it out into the garden and to enjoy it. Like the day when we will be able to return to our parks, forests and beaches, after this long and painful confinement (due to the pandemic spread of Covid-19)! Those of us who have the gift of life in our hands will truly be bearers of resurrection; today still in ‘lowercase’ waiting for DAWN.
Blessed Holy Saturday!