Today I learned a new phrase for the day between Good Friday and Easter/Resurrection Sunday: Silent Saturday. I chuckled at the thought of any day in my life ever being silent- especially a Saturday! Then I thought about that day long ago between the chaos/heartache of Good Friday and the celebration of Easter. Good Friday noises? Among them, hammering, screaming, groaning, weeping, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do,” jeering, whispering, gasping, “It is finished,” and then “Surely He was the Son of God!” The noise must have been cacophonous until it became eerily quiet as hearts sank and darkness fell. By Easter Sunday, sounds of awe, surprise, jubilation and for us today, “He is risen, Yes, He is risen, indeed.” Saturday? It’s hard to imagine that day, but I can envision a quiet day of wondering, mourning, questioning, and simply being in shock that Jesus died in such an excruciating, humiliating and public way.
I actually experienced a Silent Saturday five years ago. After a very difficult month of March for my family, I embarked on an early morning run with my dear friend and running buddy, Maegan. It was early on Palm Sunday, and we had just met up to run before church. As we found our pace, Maegan asked me how my week looked. I sighed and said, “After such a hard month, I just really want to simplify for Holy Week.” Seconds later, my feet got caught up in my shoelaces, and I landed hard on the sidewalk, chin first. Maegan later said that she heard my bones crack. I broke my jaw in two places, and by the next day, my jaw was wired shut for six weeks.
Suddenly, Holy Week became very simple for me. The pain was intense, and the difficulties my family faced were hard and complicated. For me, though, I became uncharacteristically quiet as I sipped Vicodin, water, soup, coffee and Ensure through a straw that fit in a small gap between my wires. I slept sitting up so that I could breathe more easily through my nose, and I quickly learned that I would have to rely on others for a lot of things. I felt like we had already leaned a lot on our community over the past month, and then I fell.
Word of my fall spread quickly, and dear ones from our neighborhood, school, and church began to deliver meals to my family, swoop in and grab the kids for play dates, pray for us, and leave six-packs of Ensure, Smoothie King gift cards, and lots and lots of straws on my front porch. One long-time friend from college, Julie, brought a meal for my family and a dry erase board to help me communicate. Another sweet friend, Tanya, loaned me her blender and kept our fridge stocked with scrumptious easy-to-slurp soups. An entire gaggle of friends surprised me with a house cleaning. One day, I felt like I was about to explode. My dear friend, Laura, came over and sat next to me at my computer. I typed away and hammered out all of my frustrations, and she listened, commiserated with me and talked me through it all. Once, another sweet friend, Barbara, pulled up, got out, and simply came to me and gave me a big, silent hug. She had already brought us some clever gifts, including a mood flip chart for me to show others, but on that day, a hug was all she had. And it was all I needed.
Mama and Daddy flew in on Maundy Thursday to offer love and support up-close. That was wonderful. As I was helping my folks out of the car after picking them up at the airport, though, Mama took a tumble, bonked her head, and landed in the hospital for an overnight stay. Daddy stayed with her, and then I realized that I couldn’t even call my sisters to tell them. I was new at texting, but I managed to eventually convey the main facts to them. Mama was home with us by Good Friday, with nothing but a small bump on her head, and she and Daddy did all they could to encourage me and help with my family. Just being with them was downright medicinal.
On Saturday, Silent Saturday, Mama asked me to help her with an idea. She was deeply touched by the outpouring of love from our friends, and she wanted to thank them in person. We loaded up my Highlander with Easter lilies. I drove, and we delivered about a dozen lilies to girlfriends of mine who had simply carried my family through that first week. All I could do was drive and smile, but it was a total treat to listen to southern Mama thank my dear ones, hug them, and tell them how much they meant to her.
On Easter Sunday, we woke to a huge Easter sign in our front yard, and dozens and dozens of Easter eggs for my kids to hunt. The previous night, in the darkness, so many families brought eggs filled with candy, Bible verses and encouraging notes. They tiptoed around our front yard, hiding eggs to surprise us the next morning. I wept as I stood on the front porch with Bobby and we watched the kids grab their baskets and zip around in their pj’s, collecting eggs and sounding so joyful. Our hearts were full.
At church, we all filed in for the service. Toward the end, my jaw began to ache. I had mistimed my pain medicine, and it became very hard to focus. Just then, my dear and funny friend, Craig, handed me a pew card. On it, he had drawn a remarkable image of me with my wired jaw. He even got my hair right! There was a speech bubble coming from my grillz, and it said, “He ish rishen. Yesh. He ish rishen, indeed…” Suddenly, my pain vanished, and the joy of Easter returned.
I have thought often of that season in my life since I had my wires removed. As painful as it was, I learned some beautiful life lessons. It’s okay to lean on others and simply live in gratitude for them, and it’s okay to be quiet. Sometimes, the quiet makes it easier to hear God. Simplifying, even in unexpected and painful ways, opens the door to see life with fresh eyes, and if you are willing, a really, really grateful heart. I also developed a big heart and new sensitivity for those who live with chronic physical pain. Mine lasted only six weeks. The moment I woke from having the wires removed, my excruciating headache was gone. I never experienced jaw pain again. I have prayed often for people who never get to wake to a pain-free day. I have a new understanding since my fall.
Today? It definitely was not a Silent Saturday. It was loud and chaotic around here, and tomorrow promises to be noisy too. We will welcome Resurrection Sunday with Easter baskets, chocolate bunnies and monkey bread before we head to church, deliver our wee one to the toddler room and place fresh flowers on the cross at the front of the sanctuary. I pray that my family and I will be touched anew at the price Jesus paid on the cross, and the victory He won on Easter Sunday. I know that I will thank God again for my very own Silent Saturday five years ago when others lived out their faith in my life and blessed my family over and over and over again. And I will smile as I recall one of my favorite moments in church ever. Friends, may we all remember that “He ish rishen. Yesh. He ish rishen, indeed.” Alleluia. Amen.