Despair and Hope

Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.
 —Psalm 25:5
Last year, I prayed this verse on Holy Saturday—just a couple of days after the Notre Dame fire. Circulating on the internet at that time was a photograph of a cross shining in the darkness and destruction of the cathedral. I compared it to the wait between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, when a cross shining in the nothingness was all there was. It shone not only for what was, but also for what might be—a symbol of both despair and hope.

This year, instead of Holy Week, I meditate on this psalm during Eastertide. But how remarkably appropriate it still is. We must "shelter in place"—a euphemism for being told not to leave our homes, having contact with no one we don't already live with. We must wait for the end of fear and separation, but mixed with the despair is hope.

Finding myself here between the crucifixion and the empty tomb, I wait for God all day long. Devastated by the worst that can happen, I wonder what might become of me, and of the world around me that seems to be falling apart.

It's important to experience this day no less than I might mourn on Good Friday or rejoice on Easter Sunday. For Holy Saturday is a day of unknowing, when I might, on the one hand, be tempted to close my mind to the good that might yet happen, or, on the other, to make assumptions about what God will do next. Holy Week and Easter are all the proof Christians need that neither impulse is appropriate for followers of Jesus. Just as we need never despair, we must also avoid deciding in advance what form victory might take.

May I be open to God's leading, that the truth of the wholeness God is preparing might hit home—not as I imagine it, but in the unexpected glory of the reality of the resurrection.

I ask this in the Name of the Crucified, who taught me to pray: Our Father...