It's Easter Saturday. For my family, that means its the day we celebrate the secular Easter. It's about easter egg hunts and chocolate bunnies and gifts in baskets with fake grass. We save the sacred for Easter Sunday. That's the church day, the resurrection day, the day we ascribe the more profound meaning to. Easter Saturday is, according to the bible story, that in between time.
The bible doesn't say much about those in-between days. After Jesus dies on the cross, he's prepared for burial and then the story cuts to the third day and the story of his rising. We know that most of his disciples freaked out and hid for fear of being arrested. Many of his inner circle bunkered down in a place called the upper room waiting for news. They weren't waiting to hear about Jesus rising from the dead. More likely, they were waiting to hear when the warrants for their own arrests would be issued. Its a place where a burning, faith driven enthusiasm collided with a harsh reality that seemed to obliterate that faith. The faith of these true believers had already become increasingly strained by Jesus' own predictions of his death and a noticeable falling away of followers not willing to accept some of Jesus' hard teachings. In Jesus' presence, these folks had confidence, vision and hope. Now, without Him, they were isolated, desperate and afraid.
The desperate, in-between times are those that challenge every fibre of our character. They are the times that change us for either the better or the worse. The image of a tightrope walker with no net comes to mind. Where, it seems as though everything is at stake and delicate and you will either fall into oblivion or somehow make it to the other side.
Recently I've been thinking about my dad. He died in 2009, just a few months after our beautiful girl contracted viral encephalitis. He had been told by doctor's that he had very little time. In spite of this, the day my daughter had to be taken into the hospital emergency room, he managed to meet us there and encourage us. He was going through his own, desperate, in-between time and yet he came to hope with us for the best. When our lovely girl was released from the hospital about a month later, he was on the phone, encouraging. A short, couple months later, we were able to visit him at his house. By this time, he was on hospice care. In spite of the pain and uncertainty I know he was dealing with, to us he just shared his happiness that our daughter "made it" and that he told us she would. I don't remember a time where my children bonded more with my dad than those last days. A few short weeks after this his illness took a hard turn and he passed away.
For all the differences I'd ever had with my father, how he lived those last months of his life showed me glimpses of something really great. A life lived well in the he desperate, in-between times.
I wrote a tune that is inspired by my dad in this time called "Fade To Black". Its about making a choice to keep hoping and living or fading to black which is a metaphor for despairing or even dying. Its about being in that desperate, in-between time. This verse is my dad in those times:
Might think that this ole man
has seen some better days
hit his stride back when the big bands played
seems like all this bad news
sent this train off the tracks
long as you've got a few more miles to go
don't start to fade to black
Over the past few years, we've spent a good deal of time in that place. Waiting in emergency rooms, riding in ambulances, family events interrupted with seizures. Dreams interrupted for a teenage girl. Life interrupted on an almost regular basis. So Easter Saturday; family time, bunnies, candy, egg hunts. Escapism? Material Excess? Yes, maybe. But, also, simple attempts at practicing what it is to live well in the desperate, in-between.
Tightrope image © Copyright Alexander P Kapp and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence