Today is March 31, 2018, Holy Saturday in the Church calendar. Today is the beginning of Passover in the Jewish calendar. Scrooge met up with
his Ghost of Christmas Past, Ghost of Christmas Present, and Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. All this week I have been hanging out with Easter Ghosts.
The one on your left is the Ghost of what hasn’t happened yet, the middle Ghost is the Ghost of Now—a pervasive one—and the one on your right is the Ghost of what is over.
In earlier years, Holy Saturday to me was a blank, a day of marking time. A bad thing had happened the day before, and now we had to wait until tomorrow proclaimed there was still hope after all. Everything was supposed to stay stripped bare until Easter, but already altar guild members were tiptoeing through the silence, breaching the emptiness with fresh cut blossoms. My favorite day was Good Friday; for Robert, a Jew, he was overwhelmed by the Maundy Thursday service the first time I took him. The grace and simplicity of all that stripping down, he said.
This past Thursday I drove over to the Kingston Mall to pick up some new driving glasses from LensCraft. Since my cataracts were removed last summer, I have felt nervous and in danger about driving bare-eyed for the first time in my life. So the doctor gave me a prescription which made me a true 20-20 with no astigmatism.
“It’s Thursday,” remarked the man adjusting my new glasses, whose name was William.
“Maundy Thursday,” I said. “Today the Queen gives out purses with silver money in them.”
“He was sold for thirty pieces of silver. In Roman times slaves were sold for thirty pieces of silver.”
“Where did you learn that?”
“I studied religion for a while.”
He instructed me in the proper way to remove my glasses and how to clean them.
“It must have been a terrible week for him,” he said. “Can you imagine?”
During Holy Week, I organized and packed up (see drawing above) my third collection of papers to send down to my archive in Chapel Hill. Research and handwritten composition books with early drafts off Grief Cottage(2017). More correspondence, though these days the letters are usually printed out e-mails.
Goodbye to all that.
This week Anne, my assistant for 11 years, came for the last time before she starts a new life in Newport, the place where her late husband’s family lives. Neither of us are spring chickens, or even summer chickens, but we are both leaving our ghosts of Easter past and turning our head towards the ghosts of what hasn’t happened yet.
For me, this Holy Saturday offers me a new aspect of waiting. Things have happened (“It must have been a terrible week for him.”), things have been sent off to the archives. If you follow the Church story, he is down in hell now, saying, “I order you, the sleepers, to awake.”
While those of us still above ground wait in the rich spring silence for what is to come.
This drawing was inspired by a Holy Saturday drawing on the Carmelite web site today. I had planned to give my figures faces and clothes. But they prefer to wait the way they are.