I ended my marriage on Holy Thursday. The hardest words I’ve ever heard come out of my mouth. Petrifried of the reaction. Hopeful of the claim I was making for and over my life.
I woke up Good Friday and the only thing I knew to do was run. I climbed into my car and drove away. As the wheels turned underneath me, I looked down at my ring and slowly inched it off my wedding finger. Each inch full of both pain and freedom. I slipped it into the middle console of my car where it hid for months to come; a silent reminder of the hidden pain of divorce. It was in that moment, the moment that I removed the symbolic sign of my vows that everything fell black. Everything fell silent. It was as if in sliding the ring off my finger, I was sliding the stone of my very own tomb.
I slowly began to take steps back into the dark abyss, my hand gasped over my mouth – in disbelief in what was happening. But then there I was. I felt that same kind of fear and excitement that I felt as a child during a game of hide and seek.
There I was there. All on my own and with my own strength.
I had ran into the tomb and rolled the stone shut. I was hiding.
And I realized for the first time in for as long as I could remember there was peace, there was a quiet. For all the death and decay that was in my marriage. For all the surrender it took for me to get to a place of trusting that there could be more for my life. The tomb was dark. But it was… peaceful.
I had no idea how long the dark was going to be.
I had no idea if I even cared if there was ever to be light again.
I felt safe, and that’s all that mattered to me.
I acknowledged the quiet. But then, then it got scary and I thought, THIS IS REALLY DARK. THIS IS REALLY HARD. How dark can dark actually get?
I wondered if what happened had really happened and if there was a way to un-do-the-doing. And if there was, I would. But I was so tired. From all of it. And so instead of getting up and doing anything about it, I fell. My body collapsed onto the cold, concrete floor. In and out of consciousness I went, waking-sleeping-waking.
I think Jesus did this. I think he went into the tomb and slept. Those soft, comfy linens and fancy oil probably felt really good compared to the hard-wooden cross. Dying must have been really hard. Really tiring. Really exhausting. Sleep probably felt good. It probably felt better than trying to wake up and face the reality of all the wounds; a sword to his side, a crown of thorns forced into his flesh. But yet, maybe the worst of it all being the feelings of betrayal, the abandonment, the lonely steps of calvary and the attacking jeers of the crowd - words worse than sticks and stones.
But at some point I think he woke up and must have thought “Where the hell am I?”
And that’s what happened to me. Eventually, I woke up. I sat up. I rubbed my eyes and in a droggy state of consciousness wondered where the hell I was.
When you wake up to a dark tomb with nothing but yourself you have no choice but to start doing the HARD work:
We all must die before we can rise. And what followed was months of dying – of losing, wrestling, and grieving. I gave myself permission to stay in the tomb as long as I needed, trusting that on the other side was life waiting to greet me as soon as I was ready for it.
But ONLY when I was ready enough for it.
Because a life left un-grieved is a life waiting to exhale.
So I closed one chapter. One season. And I sat in my tomb. The sun gone - rising and setting every day but I unaware of its orbit, unaware of space and time.
The sun stood still in the Bible once. There was a battle going on and the sun stopped until the nation made everything right with its enemies. In some odd way, I think time stops for us when we’re trying to avenge our souls.
It was in my tomb that I finally understood Holy Saturday. I always pictured Jesus on the cross of Good Friday; bloody and crying out. I then just sorta forgot about Jesus on Holy Saturday and waited for my Sunday bunny basket full of sugar and sweets to tell me that Jesus was alive. I never paid much attention to the three days part; about what maybe happened during those three days. But the church pauses for a whole day in its liturgical year. A whole day. And I think it’s to honor the hell part. The part where we, where Jesus, descend into hell. It’s where we do the hard work – where the deathy parts of us die, but slowly new life starts to emerge. We sloooooowly start to wake up into our new skin.
So as we prepare for lent are you ready?
Are you ready to roll your stone?
Are you ready to place yourself in a deep, dark tomb?
Maybe it’s a life-changing decision you need to make. Maybe it’s grief unattended to. Maybe it’s something in you that you KNOW needs to die.
Gawd, I’m holding all of you. My heart’s cry would be that this lent would be one where you find the courage and strength to roll your stone.