Lenten Grace — Be Still and Wait

photo by Nate Gibson
photo by Nate Gibson

I said to my mind, be still, and wait without hope

For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; yet there is faith
But the faith and the hope and the love are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be light, and the stillness the dancing.
~T. S. Eliot, from “East Coker”  The Four Quartets

This in-between day
after all had gone so wrong
before all will go so right,
puts us between the rock
and the hard place:
all hope, love and faith is squeezed from us.

Today we are flattened,
dried like chaff,
ground to pulp,
our destiny with death sealed.

We lie still
like sprinkled spices
trying to delay
inevitable decay,
wrapped up tight
stone cold
and futile.
The rock is rolled into place
so we lie underneath,
crushed and broken.
We are inside,
our bodies like His.
We are outside,
cut off and left behind.
We cannot know about tomorrow,
we do not fathom what is soon to come:
the stone lifted and rolled away,
the separation bridged,
the darkness giving way to light,
the crushed and broken rising to dance,
and the waiting stillness stirring, inexplicably,
to celebrate new life.
photo by Nate Gibson
photo by Nate Gibson

Lenten Reflection–Just the End of the Beginning

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“What God began, God will not abandon. He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion. God loves everyone, sings the psalmist. What God has named will live forever, Alleluia!

The happy ending has never been easy to believe in. After the Crucifixion the defeated little band of disciples had no hope, no expectation of Resurrection. Everything they believed in had died on the cross with Jesus. The world was right, and they had been wrong. Even when the women told the disciples that Jesus had left the stone-sealed tomb, the disciples found it nearly impossible to believe that it was not all over.
The truth was, it was just beginning.”
Madeleine L’Engle

The Saturday between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday always feels like a “already but not yet” kind of day, as if we are between sleep and waking, in weary vigil.  We aren’t celebrating “happily ever after” quite yet.  Actually every day should feel like this day, as that is where we live: we know the extent of sacrifice made, the overwhelming debt paid, but the full completion of His new covenant, His new kingdom is yet to be realized.   We wait, and will wait some more, unsure what comes next.

But one thing is clear.  Burial in the tomb was not the end.  Not even close.

To borrow from Winston Churchill out of context:

“Now this is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

David Phelps’ The End of the Beginning