The following comes for a series of devotional reflections on the Stations of the Cross by Henri Nouwen. This is excerpted from the meditation for Station 14: Jesus is laid in the Grave – from Walk With Jesus
A young Salvadoran woman stands in front of the casket that holds the body of her cruelly executed husband. She stands alone near the grave into which the casket will be lowered. Her eyes are closed, her arms folded across her body. She stands there barefoot, poor, empty. . . but very still. A deep quiet surrounds her. No shouts of grief, no cries of protest, no angry voices. It seems as if this young widow is enveloped in a cloud of peace. All is over, all is quiet, all is well. Everything has been taken away from her, but the powers of greed and violence that robbed her of her lover can’t reach that deep solitude of her heart. In the background stand her friends and neighbors. They form a protective circle around her. They honor and respect her solitude. Some are silent; some whisper words of consolation; some try to explain to each other what happened; some embrace and cry. But the woman stands there alone. She understands something that the powers of death cannot understand. There are a trust and confidence in her that are vastly more powerful than the weapons that killed her husband. The solitude of the living and the solitude of the dead greet each other.
Joseph of Arimathea placed the body of Jesus “in a tomb which was hewn in stone and which had never held a body. . . . Meanwhile, the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus were following behind. They took note of the tomb and how the body had been laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. And on the Sabbath day they rested. . . .” (Luke 23:53-56)
There was deep rest around the grave of Jesus. On the seventh day, when the work of creation was completed, God rested. “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day he rested after all his work of creating,” (Genesis 2:3). On the seventh day of the week of our redemption, when Jesus had fulfilled all he was sent by his Father to do, he rested in the tomb, and the women whose hearts were broken with grief rested with him. Of all the days in history, Holy Saturday – the Saturday during which the body of Jesus lay in the tomb in silence and darkness behind the large stone that was rolled against its entrance, (Mark 15:46) – is the day of God’s solitude. It is the day on which the whole creation waits in deep inner rest.