Somehow, the weekends seem harder in this lockdown. During the week, there are semblances of normality: work still to be done, learning still to be tackled, the usual chores to be completed. But the weekends were the times when we went out, visited friends and family, gathered together at church… The weekends were different. Now, our choices are limited and our sense of loss heightens. Weekends used to be the time for odd jobs, DIY, trips to the seaside and other places… now there is very little to distinguish them from other days for most people, and the ache seems to tighten around our chests just that little bit harder.
As we are contemplating this Easter weekend, I’m mindful of the silence of that first Easter Saturday. The adrenaline was gone; the awful reality of Jesus’ death was still there. Inactivity prevailed because of Sabbath restrictions, but how hard it must have been for the followers of Jesus, ‘coming to terms’ with their loss, trying to fathom what had happened and what would happen as a result. We get a glimpse of the unanswerable questions they were asking themselves when we see the women organising the purchase of spices to anoint Jesus’ body after the Sabbath and wondering who would roll the stone away from the tomb. (Mark 16:1-3) So many questions, and only silence as answers. And waiting.
Waiting, Michael Card says, ‘is the most bitter lesson a believing heart has to learn.’ (‘Maranatha’) The Psalms are full of our impatient questions: ‘How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?’ (Ps 13:1-2) In some ways, God gave us the Sabbath to teach us not only how to rest, but how to wait. Waiting, for most of us, is not what we want to do. We want to be active; we want to be doing. We’re not even sure it matters what we’re doing, as long as we’re doing something. Yet, as Eugene Peterson reminds us, “The precedent to quit doing and simply be is divine. Sabbath-keeping is commanded so that we internalise the being that matures out of doing.” (Eugene Peterson, ‘Working the Angles’) Waiting and not doing are as essential to our spiritual growth as doing.
So, on this silent Saturday as we wait for Sunday to come, as we have been forced to abandon our plans to gather with friends and family and to journey to much-loved places and are stuck with the potential boredom of home and the monotony of daily life, perhaps the best thing we can do is nothing. Simply wait before God, worship Him and allow Him into every corner of our hearts, every facet of our lives. Wait in stillness before the Lord.