Over the last few weeks, as the church has observed the season of Easter with the liturgical calendar, I have been meditating on the subject of “tomb time.” I’m referring to the space between Jesus’ crucifixion and Easter Sunday. We call this in-between time Holy Saturday. Author Mary Ford-Grabowsky calls this “tomb time.”
We’ve all experienced our own version of “tomb time” when all seemed dead, when we have found ourselves helpless and impotent, unable to raise ourselves out of the death in which we find ourselves. I think of instances in the Scripture like Abraham and Sarah, waiting on God to bring forth the child of promise, holding onto God’s promise in the midst of impotency and a dead womb.
And what of the children of Israel, backs against the wall with the Red Sea in front of them and the army of Pharaoh in hot pursuit? Just recently I noticed the predicament of Paul and Silas, stripped and flogged, thrown into the most interior part of a prison with feet placed in stocks. How helpless a situation was that? But God…
We could go on and on with examples of “tomb time” but I leave you with this poem by Joyce Rupp from her book, Fresh Bread. It is a poem of promise, of resurrection life springing forth out of a season of death that is really “a dark, silent fertility.” (Ford-Grabowsky)
Every year it happens/earth shakes her sleepy head
still a bit wintered and dull,/and feels new life stirring.
Every year cocoons give up their treasures
fresh shoots push through brown leaves,
seemingly dead branches shine with green,
and singing birds find their way home.
Every year we hear the stories
empty tomb, surprised grievers,/
runners with news and revelation,
unexpected encounters,/conversations on the road,
tales of nets filling with fish,/and breakfast on the seashore.
And every year/the dead and dull in us/meets our Easter challenge:
to be open to the unexpected/to believe beyond our security,
to welcome God in every form,/
and trust in our own greening.