Holy Saturday, Psalms and Songs

Mary Oliver Reminds Us of When We Had Something

Mary Oliver

The grass never sleeps.
Or the roses.
Nor does the lily have a secret eye that shuts until morning.

Jesus said, wait with me. But the disciples slept.

The cricket has such splendid fringe on its feet,
and it sings, have you noticed, with its whole body,
and heaven knows if it ever sleeps.

Jesus said, wait with me. And maybe
the stars did, maybe the wind wound itself into a silver tree, and didn’t move,
the lake far away, where once he walked as on a
blue pavement,
lay still and waited, wild awake.

Oh the dear bodies, slumped and eye-shut, that could not
keep that vigil, how they must have wept,
so utterly human, knowing this too
must be a part of the story. 

Today, is when the deafening roar stops its echoes in our ears. When all is silent and we are told to wait. But that’s because we’ve been told the ending, so the ending becomes a shrug, even if a joyful one. To “Christsplain” is an annoying condescension, but Christians sometimes smugly do it. The pious humblebrags of grace and redemption, of strong faith and wretched sinfulness. The self-assuredness of one’s experiential theology, the self-drawn map of narcissistic systematics. The folly of Easter is that to claim understanding is to commit hubris. But we are always only just awaking, confused with crust and tears in our eyes. Jesus is dead. We saw it or we heard and believed it true. How it is to awake in sorrow on Saturday, to risk the loss of comfort tomorrow morning. This poem reminds of when Jesus was still near, even when we slept and even when we still failed him, when we could not wait with him. At least he was near and alone. 

If we expect Easter, we will never receive Easter. Today, there can only be stillness and the preparation to move forward alone and together. To do otherwise is self-deception and foolishness. 

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