Mercy Minutes #46 (Holy Week series)

A reflection on the Easter Vigil by Kristi Anderson, multimedia reporter for The Visitor.

praying-handsI love the Easter Vigil. Pulling up to the dimly lit parish, watching as ushers ready the great blaze outside, friends waving greetings, children dressed in new threads abuzz with excitement soon to be asleep on their mother’s shoulders.  Just the day before, I solemnly staggered to the front of the same church and laid my burdens at the foot of the Cross, kissing the rough wood and fighting back tears for the sacrifice my Savior made for me, for ME.

In just moments, I will sit in the same space in almost total darkness, neighbors and strangers at my side. I will listen to the Word sung and spoken. I cherish this gift – sitting deep in the darkness knowing soon there will be light – savoring those last few moments, letting the darkness wash over me, embrace me, feeling nearest to Jesus during the wait – because I know what is coming next.

I am reminded of a quote by Henri Nouwen:

“Our lives are full of suffering, pain, disillusions, losses and grief, but they are also marked by visions of the coming of the Son of Man ‘like lightning striking in the east and flashing far into west’ (Matthew 24:27). These moments in which we see clearly, hear loudly and feel deeply that God is with us on the journey make us shine as a light into the darkness.’”

And just then, the worship space is flooded with light. As parishioners struggle to adjust their eyes, the singing changes from solemn to lively. The long awaited Alleluia chorus rings out. And just like that, sorrow turns to joy. And it’s more beautiful than I remembered.

Sometimes that feeling of Holy Saturday comes to me in the moments just before waking – those hazy moments when I am caught between sleep and awake, between opening my eyes from the comfortable darkness to wanting to greet the morning light. Like the Easter Vigil, I know that with each morning, the light will come. What is more difficult to remember is that in our suffering, the Light will come, yet we are often closest to it during the wait.