Holy Saturday is a kind of “in-between” day – after the emotional highs and lows of Holy Thursday and Good Friday and before the not-yet joyful celebrations of Easter. Sometimes, the uneasiness of the day is almost palpable. Truth is, I have been experiencing this “in-the-tomb” feeling for a few weeks now. Not in pain, not depressed, not hopeless, but a kind of listlessness and vague uneasiness.
I am reminded of Kathleen Norris’ book Acedia and Me. When I first read it a few years ago, her words did not resonate in the same way that her other books do. However, today acedia is a good word to describe the last few weeks. Norris describes acedia as restlessness, seeing the future as overwhelming, and sometimes a vague uneasiness arising from too many choices. The term also exists in the literature of various cultures. Some authors suggest that a possible remedy is a mixture of work and determined pleasure in life.
Last week, I came across reflections of two different authors related to this determined pleasure in life. The first was a quotation of theologian and mystic Howard Thurman (d. 1981). He once said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” On the same day, I found an excerpt from Caryll Houselander’s, The Risen Christ. She believed that “Christ in his humanness wanted joy. He chose to suffer completely and to the end, but he also wanted absolute joy; he wanted to receive it and he wanted to give it. . . It is a great part of our Christ’s life to increase joy in the world, just as it is . . .First of all in our own lives . . .”
My own reflections that day included two questions:
Q.What makes me come alive?
Q. What brings me joy?
I made a list, chose a few items from the list, and took a few steps toward realizing that “new life.” What better time than in preparation for Easter – that joyful celebration of New Life. Here is a partial list (omitting the obvious time with family and good friends): good books, academic libraries and college campuses, giving women’s retreats, teaching, the beach, my lanai, neighborhood coffee shops, photography in new places, travel to Latin America.
Q. What steps am I planning to “come alive”?
Here is a partial list: 1) time at the beach with good books, neighborhood coffee shop, and walks with my camera; 2) “travel safaris” and new photography opportunities with longtime friends; 3) a huge celebration of an upcoming milestone birthday; 4) more time this summer on the lanai with good books and less time in my church work office.
Q. In the meantime, what will make me “come alive” today?
I am finding new life in small things: 1) setting out Easter decorations in a clean house; 2) buying a pot of tulips for the kitchen table; 3) and, meeting a friend for lunch at a local restaurant that I have not been to in a long time.
Q. What makes you come alive? What brings you joy?
May you experience all the special blessings of Easter: new life, joy, and peace.