Agape: April 11, 2020 (Holy Saturday)

Agape: The 2020 Lenten Devotional for St. Paul's Episcopal Church

“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” -1 Corinthians 13:12

Yesterday, I mentioned my trip out to Washington fourteen years ago to say good-bye to my grandfather. After a teary good-bye with my grandfather that afternoon, my mother drove me to Everett to drop me at the train station before continuing down to Seattle for her flight back to California. I pulled myself together, figuring that I would be on the train in my own roomette within two hours and could have the next eighteen hours to work through my sadness before I reached Montana, where my now former husband Jon and I were living at the time. Luck was not on my side, however, because a construction crane fell across the tracks in Seattle, delaying the train by seven hours. Five hours into that seven-hour delay, my ability to retain my composure was shot completely from being tired, hungry, and grieving having to say good-bye to one of the most important people in my life. I called my former father-in-law in tears, and he listened and prayed silently while I sobbed for forty-five minutes. I was sobbing so hard that I was unable to talk and had to write something on a piece of paper to show the security guards who were alarmed at how hard I was crying. Eventually, my train arrived from Seattle, and my porter led me to my roomette where my bed was turned down and food was waiting for me. After eating something, I collapsed on the bed, exhausted from crying.

I like to think that my experience that night gives me some insight into what the disciples were experiencing today on Holy Saturday. Their beloved teacher, who many of them expected would kick the Romans out of Palestine as a proper Messiah would do, had been put to death the day before in a grotesque manner meant to serve as an example to anyone who thought of threatening Rome’s power. Most of them had fled the garden of Gethsemane, and Peter had denied knowing Jesus to keep from meeting a similar fate. Presumably, they were all locked together in the Upper Room, trying to make sense of what was going on.

Both the disciples and I were accurate descriptions of today’s verse from 1 Corinthians 13. We were so consumed by our grief that we could not see what was actually happening. Our view of our situations was that of seeing “in a mirror dimly … [knowing] only in part.” The disciples would eventually know the whole story. In the last fourteen years, I have learned that love transcends death and that my grandfather is with me daily, even sending me rainbows from heaven when I need assurance that things will be OK.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for people in our lives who sit and hold space with us when we grieve. Help us to remember that death is not the final answer and that our present knowledge is only of part of the picture. Amen.
-Jen McCabe