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The Aroma of Holy Saturday

It was December 18, 2020 the day after I lost my primo Jessie. Most of us in my familia were unable to sleep the night before after enduring the passing of our beloved son, cousin, and nephew. The exhaustion, the cansancio, over our bodies was all too real and nearly numbing.

Wide awake, the Lepe mujeres gathered what we could-natural oils, teas, supplements accompanied by other mujeres y tías joining us to bring forth presencia en medio de nuestro dolor to Jessie’s family.

I imagine that the mental state of the women the day after Jesus’ passing in Luke 23:55-56 was similar to mine and my tías’.

“Now the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed [closely], and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they went back and prepared spices and ointments and sweet-smelling herbs.” (Luke 23: 55-56)

What is interesting about this is how this day fell on the Sabbath, a day required to stop and rest. I can imagine the mujeres wanting to do more, wanting to prepare, comfort, and anoint out of the goodness of their heart and perhaps out of a desire to keep distracted, but they were required to rest. I felt the same way the day after, feeling the holy struggle to face my pain in tension with the desire to keep busy and help comfort on the second day of Jessie’s passing.

And how difficult it is to rest and sit still with grief! Grief does not shout, nor does it make a grand elegant gesture. It makes us sit still in this quiet empty place, for in the silence is when it speaks and makes itself evident.

Is this what the mujeres felt on the second day? Is this what Mary, mother of Jesus felt on Holy Saturday?

El llanto de mi mami y mis tías reached the heavens on this day. El llanto de la mamá de Jesús y las mujeres also reached the heavens on the second day of Jesus' passing, on this Holy Saturday.

This is what constitutes the authentic meaning of El Sábado Santo.

To those who have lost someone dear to them and find themselves in apathy on a day like this, know that you are close to the meaning and true state of today. You resonate with our former hermanos y hermanas who grieved Jesus nearly 2,000 years ago. This is not a distant and spiritually lacking place, it is on the contrary completely close to Jesus and the experience of losing him and our loved ones made in the image of God.

In our lament, anger and sadness, may we see how close our grief is to the loss of the Son of God after his crucifixion. These dark, empty, emotions are what made Holy Saturday what it is.

Can I say that the stillness of Holy Saturday also holds our pain together with anticipation?

Holy Saturday is our grief and hope in the tensions.

Holy Saturday is our wrestling with “doing” and “resting”.

Holy Saturday is the unwanted grief that calls for the attention of our hurting hearts.

On this day and in this place we wait anticipating, anticipando y en espera.

There is a hope coming in the quiet of the night when there is nothing left to say. Hope came the night of Jesus’ passing, and whether I felt it (and even believed it) or not, it came during the passing of my primo Jessie. This hope is not based on the state I am feeling, but on the touch of the Eternal Love that is sustaining me. It gravitated the mujeres of my family to gather oils, perfumes, and presencia en medio de nuestro dolor. It also stopped us to sit still in our pain so Holy Spirit could comfort us during our llanto for our llantos were also a fragrance to God and the aroma of our hearts.

Today may you may experience the fullness of Holy Saturday beloved, and know that pain, grief, and hope are held together by Eternal Love in your waiting and in your silence.

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