Holy Saturday: In the Breath, Another Breathing

Breath Will Come to the Desolate BonesImage: Breath Will Come to the Desolate Bones © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Holy Saturday:
Matthew 27.57-66 or John 19.38-42

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there,
sitting opposite the tomb.
—Matthew 27.61

Holy Saturday.

This day between the dying and the rising.

This day that calls us to hold our anguish and our hope in the same hand.

This day that invites us to marvel that when our heart has been shattered, it somehow manages to keep beating. That we somehow manage to keep breathing.

Still.

In the Breath, Another Breathing
For Holy Saturday

Let it be
that on this day
we will expect
no more of ourselves
than to keep
breathing
with the bewildered
cadence
of lungs that will not
give up the ghost.

Let it be
we will expect
little but
the beating of
our heart,
stubborn in
its repeating rhythm
that will not
cease to sound.

Let it be
we will
still ourselves
enough to hear
what may yet
come to echo:
as if in the breath,
another breathing;
as if in the heartbeat,
another heart.

Let it be
we will not
try to fathom
what comes
to meet us
in the stillness
but simply open
to the approach
of a mystery
we hardly dared
to dream.

—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace

Using Jan’s artwork…

To use the image “Breath Will Come to the Desolate Bones,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible.

Using Jan’s words…
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

7 Responses to “Holy Saturday: In the Breath, Another Breathing”

  1. Maureen Says:

    Blessings, Jan.

  2. Robyn Sand Anderson Says:

    Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

  3. Cecilia F. Whitehurst Says:

    My Holy Saturday is, selfishly, still all about my grief. The lines, “lungs that will not give up the ghost” and “the beating of our heart, stubborn in its repeating rhythm that will not cease to sound” resonate with my ongoing bewilderment at finding myself without my dearest beloved at my side and wondering why I am still here. It’s been 20 months since he died — we shared 40 years of life and love — and still, it makes no sense. I know you didn’t write this poem about me and my beloved, yet I must thank you for perhaps unwittingly giving me great consolation and hope. My hope is captured in your words, “Let it be we will still ourselves enough to hear what may yet come to echo: as if in the breath, another breathing; as if in the heartbeat, another heart.” Thank you for this luminous view of this Holy Sabbath.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Cecilia, I am so sorry about your husband, and that you are having to walk this path of grief. Thank you for the gift of your beautiful words.

      I wrote this blessing some months after the death of my husband, when it seemed (as it still does) such a marvel that I was still breathing and my heart was still beating when it had been so shattered. Though grieving can seem selfish, and I still sometimes struggle with that sensation, I’ve come to see that giving attention to our grief and listening to what it has to say is one of the most important and healing things we can do.

      Easter tells us that grief will not have the final word, but in this life, while grief is with us, it has some important words we need to hear. I know for me, this requires a lot of listening, and quiet, and engaging in other practices that help me hear into the grief and into the places of pain, beauty, and love that it holds.

      This kind of attention, which can seem selfish, ultimately enables me to open my heart wider and wider, and to perceive the other heartbeat that, in grace, helps keep my own heart beating. Opening our heart is, of course, one of the most unselfish acts of all.

      I grieve with you in your grief, and I rejoice that you are attending to it. I hope you will continue to do so. In listening to it, may you be visited with deepest joy, and with an awareness of the love that continues to beat in your heart.

      Thank you again, Cecilia! Deep peace to you on this Holy Saturday and on every day to come.

  4. Mila Says:

    Thank you for Sharing us your Work this Holy Saturday.God Bless you/family

    Mila Plested
    Tagish,YUKON,YT.

  5. Linda Goddard Says:

    Another lovely and hope-filled Blessing! I remain grateful for your generous sharing of your artistic gifts, dear friend!

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