I always find this day – the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday – the strangest one in Lent. After 30 odd years as a christian I have heard many, many sermons about the significance of the cross and the resurrection, but have heard very little which makes sense to me about the space of time stretching between the two events. For me it is a dark, mysterious, lonely day – a bit like black, rich earth which may be about to burst into life but at the moment still looks bleak and barren.
Several days during this photo journey I have walked past this passageway between two shops and been tempted to take a picture, but today it seemed just the right symbol for the last day in Lent: a symbol of in-betweenness, of journeying unseen in the dark, and one of pressing on towards the light which still feels far away and hard to reach.
It wasn’t until I got home and looked at the photo in more detail that I realised it also linked together several of the themes I have looked at over Lent. The dusty passageway reminds me of my imperfect start at the beginning of the project, the big bin makes me think of the skip I discussed here, and I realise now that the graffiti tag at the top right of the image is also the same one I looked at before. But most importantly, the themes of light and of the cross are central here: the focus of the photo is the light shining through the cross at the far end of the passage, and that light is set against the darkest part of the picture.
For me, the thing that has been most memorable about writing these posts has been the connections I have made with people in many different countries. I have been really touched by the new friendships I have made and in particular have been aware of just how many of the people who have stuck with reading the posts (and commented on them or emailed me) are going through very difficult times at the moment. There are several readers suffering from illnesses like chronic fatigue, depression, Lyme disease and fibromyalgia. In many ways I find it as hard to make sense of that suffering as I do of this day in Lent. It carries the same sense of strangeness, mystery and loneliness, but also the same feeling of significance and potential.
It is easy for me to pontificate about the significance of this as a person who is in good health, but I still want to say that I trust that this period of time in that dark passageway is not wasted time for those who are in it. Although it’s strange, lonely and exhausting there, there is meaning in it, though that meaning may be hard to see clearly in the darkness. As Saint Denys the Areopagite said,
(the) … unchangeable mysteries of heavenly Truth lie hidden in the dazzling obscurity of the secret Silence, outshining all brilliance with the intensity of their darkness…
It may be that the light will be seen more clearly against the backdrop of darkness, or perhaps that there is a numinous darkness in which we get to know the divine in a more whole way.
Hearing the resurrection story in church today – as told by Matthew – I was struck again by what an important role the women have, but also how hard it is for them to move into a new relationship with the risen Christ. I find the resurrection stories quite painful because, like the women at that first Easter, I would find it so much more comforting to be able to hold on to the physical body of Jesus, to grab his feet and pin him to the earth, to keep him in plain sight, to touch him, to speak with him face to face.
Although the resurrection was a massively joyful occasion for these women who had feared all was lost, it was also the start of a new type of letting go of the Jesus they had known and loved.
Perhaps one of the greatest strengths of women is their earthiness (mater and matter), which is demonstrated through their connectedness to body, relationship and holding. These women at the resurrection had to let go of their earthly Jesus and move into a new relationship with the risen and shared Christ.
And still for us, all these years later, there is letting go to do as well as new ways of holding on.
A big ‘thank you’ to everyone who’s had a look at these Lenten reflections – I have really valued the support you have given me. Now that Lent is over I intend to get back to writing about the connections I see between spirituality, creativity and transformation. I hope many of you will continue to drop in. Do feel free to subscribe if you want to make sure never to miss a post. Also, please do contact me if there are any subjects you would be interested in reading about here or if you have any questions.
Thanks again and a very happy Easter!