It is Saturday, an in-between day. A day in the margins. For those that follow the Christian calendar, this day is called Holy Saturday. We are living today between the lament and grief of Good Friday and the praise and celebration of Easter Sunday tomorrow. And so goes our world, living with the monstrous deaths and losses mounting yet longing for a new day and a new world. We are living in uncertainty, not knowing when the lockdowns will end or our job will be restored. And remember that no one can tell you when it will all end. Some are nonetheless trying.
Just the other day, I heard someone share a prophetic “word” that said the virus will “end” at the end of last week. They were wrong. Others are pouring out advice or even conspiracy theories across social media, hopefully out of good intent but sometimes that is to be doubted as much as the information they pass on. Don’t you wish that these people who were wrong would humble themselves and say so? In these days, humility whether on the part of religious or political leaders is never more refreshing. When you pass on something and find out it is wrong, please do acknowledge that and say you are sorry. It would help us all right now in these days of uncertainty.
But the uncertainty is not going away. As hard as it is, we need to embrace uncertainty. Last week, a favorite columnist of mine, David Brooks, wrote these words that start with a secular lament against the virus. Don’t get hung up with the language, for lament does not come with sweet and pretty words. Lament is an authentic grappling with pain and sorrow, not a sugar coating of positivity meant only to encourage and inspire. Here is some of what Brooks wrote:
Screw this virus. Screw this virus that is already ravaging families, burying people in the hard isolation of the same four walls, leaving waitresses in anguish about how they’re going to pay the rent. If you don’t have a little hate in your heart toward this thing, you probably aren’t motivated enough. While you’re at it, screw certainty. Over the past few weeks I’ve been bingeing on commentary from people predicting how long this is going to last and how bad it’s going to be. The authors seem really smart and their data sets seem really terrible.
As Brooks writes above, there are so many people predicting so many things. On this Holy Saturday, we wait in silence for what we hope and believe will be a different future, a time of the praise and celebration of renewal that Easter represents. But it is so hard to wait. With that waiting, however, comes a wisdom that is hard fought and yet so precious to obtain.
Let me quote another paragraph from Brooks about this wisdom: I’m beginning to appreciate the wisdom that cancer patients share: We just can’t know. Don’t expect life to be predictable or fair. Don’t try to tame the situation with some feel good lie or confident prediction. Embrace the uncertainty of this whole life-or-death deal. There’s a weird clarity that come with that embrace. There is a humility that comes with realizing you’re not the glorious plans you made for your life. When the plans are upset, there’s a quieter and better you beneath them. We’re seeing the world with plague eyes now.
Yes, there’s a clarity that comes with embracing uncertainty. With seeing the world with ‘plague eyes’. There will come a new day, a new world. As I have been writing in this blog in recent weeks, and many others have as well, the world that is going to emerge from all this will be different. There will be many negative aspects of course, but also much that is renewed and reborn. But for now we are in a time of uncertainty. And we need to embrace it. Live into it.
Test every word that comes to you right now. Don’t believe the conspiracy theories meant to indict one side or another with blame and shame. When you have passed on a word that is wrong, humble yourself to the level of the audience you shared it with. Some words and advice will be right, some will prove to be wrong, brought often from a good heart that wants simply to inspire. Often it takes a period of time to pass to know if something was right or wrong. But still when you find out, acknowledge it no matter how much time has passed.
And on this Holy Saturday, don’t give up. You may be still in a time of deep lament and grief, not prepared to move too quickly into praise and celebration. That is ok. It is ok to not be ok. I have learned that in my life. But just know that there will be a new day. A new world.
We just don’t know when.