The Land of Tears

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in “The Little Prince” — ‘It is such a secret place, the land of tears.’

38 After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission, so he came and removed his body. 39 Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. 40 They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 42 And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

John 19: 38-42, NRSV

Holy Saturday. A vigil in hiding. A place of secret tears and fears. The followers of Jesus must have wondered what their fate would be, and feared how they could be hunted down by the powerful and political. I can imagine their distrust of anyone outside of their trusted circle of friends.

The palm branches they waved on Palm Sunday are withered and crumbling. There are no shouts of “Hosanna! Save us!” There is no Triumphal Entry. There is sadness. Great sadness. Confusion at what didn’t happen and seemed so promising.

It is very hard to be in the place of not knowing, of having experienced pain and loss, and not yet seeing resolution. Of having to sit with sorrow instead of seeing the possibility of mystery and renewal. It is indeed a secret place… and God knows…

24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope, for who hopes for what one already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with groanings too deep for words. 

Romans 8: 24-26 NSRV

Kind words are spoken far too soon. There is a need for silence. For quiet. For allowing those who are grieving to withdraw and regain strength. To wait with patience, looking for signs of hope. To live within the Promises we know to be true, but seem invisible…

Sitting with suffering is not easy. We fill the space of suffering with words and platitudes. We all do this. Yes, even chaplains, who know better, try to “fix” instead of being in the sorrow of the moment.

So for today, as the world waits and the tomb is closed, know that there is a space for secret fears and tears. To have precious time to heal and make room for joy coming in the morning…

Blessed be…

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