The Space We Live Most of Our Lives

by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM, March 31, 2018

And so we wait. With whatever is unfinished. With whatever is incomplete. With whatever is held captive by fear, imprisoned by anxiety, entombed by despair. With whatever seems unable to move forward. With whatever longs for wholeness and fullness of life.

Empty tombThis is the waiting of Holy Saturday, which occupies an unusual place in Holy Week, sandwiched somewhere between the wrenching grief and horrific suffering of Good Friday and the exultant confirmation and hope of Easter Sunday.

Absent on Holy Saturday are the dramatic elements of the day before: the sun disappearing and the sky turning black; the curtain in the Temple rent in two pieces; the outpouring of blood and water; the women standing beneath the cross in their collective grief; the earth itself quaking and trembling.

Now that same ground is eerily silent. Now it seems that the last word has been spoken, the final chapter written. Now it appears that the dream of the kin-dom is a song whose end note has been sung. This is Holy Saturday, described by Steve Garnaas-Holmes in Unfolding Light:

“Poor Holy Saturday,
hung out to dry between
Good Friday’s drama
and Easter’s miracle.
Not much going for it,
this empty day bereft of tradition,
just an in-between time.
A day of waiting around,
a day of thinking we knew.

Welcome home.
This is the day we live most of our life in,
the wide space between tragedy and recovery,
the emptiness between the pain and the healing.

Only later, not on this day, do we know
we’re not waiting for a future;
we’re watching God unfold.

That is enough.
That is why this day,
drab and ordinary,
is holy.”

So let’s not be fooled. This day is its own kind of extraordinary. Here in this in-between time, this liminal space, this place where life is already now and not yet, is the where and when of our everyday living. We wait not only with our own stories, but with a global community that also longs for the fullness of God’s dream.Dock to lake copy

In Following Jesus on the Way to Calvary, Joe Nangle, OFM writes that Holy Saturday is a metaphor for where we often find ourselves today, in the in-between times, between life and death, sadness and joy, between what has been and what will be.

He notes that our call is to wait with the world. To wait in the tomb, what he calls “the womb of solidarity”, the place where we are in communion with our neighbors around the globe. At that tomb, in that space, we wait with all those in our world who are longing: for justice, for freedom, for relief from their suffering. In that space, we feel the desire of those who live in deprivation. We’re bruised by the wounds of those who are imprisoned by fear or oppression. We stand with those who are overcome with despair.

“The tomb is cold, dark, and lonely,” Nangle observes. “It smells of death. It is not a comfortable place to be. But it is where the Christian community is called to be.”

Called to be and to wait in the in-between times. Called to be and to wait as carriers of hope. Called to be and to wait as followers who refuse to bury God’s dream for our world. Called to be and to wait as disciples who live resurrection.


Sit in stillness by the tomb of Jesus.
Listen to what he has to say to you as you wait with him.
At what other times in your life have you kept vigil?
What did that waiting feel like? look like?
How did the Holy One companion you at that time?
Sit in solidarity with all those in our world who, at this very moment, are waiting and longing to rise.


Happy Easter, and thank you for following Mining the Now. Know that I wish you every blessing of new life this Easter and all through the days ahead!

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2 thoughts on “The Space We Live Most of Our Lives”

  1. I found it hard to identify with the poem. Upon reflection, I realize that it has to speak the truth of those who have no memories before Vatican II. Underneath my appreciation for the restoration of the ancient observance of Holy Saturday runs a river of colorful memories: kids went to the morning services with their dads, the boys serving at the altar, the girls singing a Capella in the choir; moms were at home finishing the preparation of the special Easter foods; at noon the families were back in church with our baskets and embroidered covers for the blessing of those foods; at night there was another beautiful procession like the one on Holy Thursday.

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