Reflecting on one of the strangest and most powerful Holy Saturdays of my life. May it give encouragement to those "waiting" on God.
Several years ago today, on Holy Saturday, I had one of the strangest and yet most powerful confessions of my life. I hadn't been to confession yet for the Easter season, and wanted desperately to go. But all Penance services at local parishes were over. I was such a mess at that time. And of course I was wallowing in the sorrows of my mess, feeling guilty about my sins and my lack of Lenten preparation, among many other things. Thankfully, at that time, we were living in Erie and the Diocese had set up a chapel inside the mall, as a means of convenience. So, yes, I dragged my pathetic butt there -- confession at the mall, on Holy Saturday.
At this time, I was struggling in a really unhealthy relationship with someone, and it was affecting every other area of my life. It was a rollercoaster... and the cause of a lot of my sins and a lot of my failures in my duties to my family. It was stealing my joy, and it consumed my life like a thick blanket, snuffing out light and air. In a nutshell, it was destroying me.
I ran to the confessional as an emotional wreck. I poured out my mess upon that poor priest like vomit. A never-ending flow of sickness, really. He sat there, listening intently, with a look on his face that I can still see to this day... a look of awe and wonder. It was so strange.
When I stopped spewing my troubles on him, he paused, and very slowly said, "The Lord is about to roll away the stone in your life." He said it a couple times, with a very mystified look, and that was really all he said to me.
"What?!" I thought. "That's the advice I get? That makes no sense at all! Didn't he listen to one single word I said???"
I walked out of the confessional that day more of a mess than when I went in. I had my hopes set on hearing some good counsel to guide me, and I didn't feel I receive it. It was a real letdown. And now I was even more upset with myself for being selfish, for being disappointed and disheartened after receiving a Sacrament. After all, it wasn't supposed to be about "counsel". The Sacrament of Reconciliation was about confessing my sins to God. I should have felt good about that. But I didn't.
I drove home from the mall that day in tears, trying to put myself together before the day's events . And I managed. I got out Easter baskets, watch egg hunts and helped with egg coloring, etc. The next morning, though (Easter morning), I decided I would get up early, before anyone else was awake. I decided I would enter into the quiet. "Be still and know that I am God," He said. I started writing to Him, and I sat there in His presence. I just brought myself to Him, the mess that I was, and I gave it all to Him. "Here I am, Lord," I said. And He heard me.
In that moment, God Almighty came down upon me with great power and love. It's hard to even put into words what happened. It was like spirit of God hugged me and I felt it... but not just "me". He hugged every part of me, every cell in my body, every hair on my head. He hugged me completely as only He can, and I received strength in every part of my being. I felt the mysterious grace enter me and fill me. Friends, He resurrected me... on Easter morning, in my PJs, with bed head and all.
The priest was right in that confessional. As it turned out, he was a prophetic man. That morning, God rolled away the stone in my life and He carried me out of the tomb. He didn't "fix" my situation like I had been asking Him to. He fixed me.
Later that Easter morning, the person I had been struggling with sat directly behind me at Church... and I had joy and peace in their presence. From that moment on, that grace remained with me. I have been strengthened for that relationship. Though heartache still comes, I am not bound to the roller coaster. I can get on and off as I please. And the genuine love in my heart for this person does not change.
Looking back on that Easter morning, I realize that Holy Saturday set in motion a sort of "perfect storm". I was in touch with my brokenness; I confessed my sins, and I waited. Through egg hunts and egg coloring I waited... in the dark, suffocating tomb inside myself. There was nothing more to be done, but wait. Then, I brought myself into His presence, was open to His way (even if it wasn't my way), and He rolled away the stone. Light entered.
I can't help but think of this "resurrection", every year on this day. It's sort of an anniversary for me. I am telling the story today in case there is someone out there suffering like I was that Holy Saturday so many years ago. I am here to tell you the Lord hears you. Just wait. Wait... and be open to HIS way, His resurrection... which is likely different than what you have been envisioning.
Take heart, friends. He is a good God. He will roll away the stone in your life too.