Saturday, April 23, 2011

A liminal Saturday

It's Holy Saturday, that day in the Christian tradition that sits quietly waiting between the violence of Good Friday and the celebratory exuberance of Easter. 

This is the day when we don't know yet: it's the essence of  liminal space, and it's a place all too familiar to me.  In many ways I feel I've lived here for years, having lost the confident faith of my childhood somewhere in the 90's and never quite having replaced it with some other kind of assurance.

Some part of me stands at the door of the courtyard and watches as the church passes through its liturgical year even as other parts of me occasionally sit in the pews or read -- and re-read -- the Buddhist literature that was such a comfort to me the last time I went through one of these periods, back in my twenties. 

I understand now that even with all my Buddhist leanings I have way too much hope and trust to ever be anything but a Christian: not a hope that there might be heaven, but a hope and trust that there is something Divine that exists both in and outside us, that loves and guides and mourns and comforts as we struggle along the path; a hope and trust that forgiveness is not only possible but already ours, if we can but sense it.

It's a rich place -- this liminal space -- full of promise and sadness; blessed with moments of bright delight and enlivened with deep shadows of loss and foreboding... so perhaps that explains why the one ritual of Easter that I miss the most is the Great Vigil -- a service not all that many churches actually hold, but which -- done well -- contains the darkness and the joy, the somber history of failings and losses and the bright effervescent dance of liberation.

I don't have many plans for the day -- a meeting in the morning, a trip to Seattle to deliver an Easter Basket and help my daughter get some more shelving... but somewhere in there I want to take the time to listen to Cynthia Bourgeault's Palm Sunday sermon, which came to me in email a few days back, and was recommended again yesterday by one of my readers.  Cynthia's teachings on the Wisdom Jesus and Contemplative Prayer, like Lynn Bauman's work with the Gospel of Thomas, have been a huge comfort for me during these liminal years, and it seems to me -- having heard her recently speak of her learnings about Mary Magdalene -- that her essence is more radiant these days, perhaps because of what she's learning about Christianity at the feet of Mary Magdalene.  I like that; I could use a little radiance.

Maybe you can listen, too, and we'll see how we feel when Easter rolls around.

1 comment:

Maureen said...

I, too, find great power in the Great Vigil Service. Our parish observes it, and to sit in the dark and silence can bring up such a mix of emotions.

Blessings to you this Easter. May peace be with you.