This image came to me just this Good Friday morning, as the piece (a video compilation) I had intended to display today is simply not finished, a piece that represents a journey, our journey, my journey, this past year. Amid the many blessings of re-configuring and re-prioritising our lives this past year, understanding the things and people we most value (and miss the most) in a time of cruel separation in the isolation of being ‘locked down’, and watching new things and opportunities emerge that otherwise may not have anytime soon, it has been a long and painful year. A ‘Holy Saturday’ of years. A Holy Satur-year of loneliness, loss, emptiness, chaos, uncertainty, disorientation, alienation. The unfinished-ness of my intended individual piece for the In/break exhibition is a marker of all these things, and is certainly a metaphor for the impact this past year has had in interrupting our progress and our journeys.
For all these reasons THIS Good Friday and Holy Saturday are opportunities to treasure in ways we perhaps could not have even conceived in previous years. For me and I suspect many others, THIS Good Friday is an opportunity to sit in the loss, the grief, the pain of a kind of dying – perhaps many mini deaths of things over the past year, or of the physical death of people very close to us in a time we cannot properly grieve together – and accompany Christ in his agony in the garden, his via dolorosa and his walk to Golgotha, the place of the skull.
We know it doesn’t end there, hence the hope that lives at the cornerstone of Christian faith as a ‘Resurrection People’. But far too often, we skip past the pain and grief of Friday and the emptiness and disorientation of Saturday and rush to Sunday. This year, more than any other year, I believe we really cheat ourselves of a profound and important part of our journey of faith by not marking all we have been through this past year. All of it. These next two days – Good Friday and Holy Saturday – offer us an opportunity to step into the fullness of what it means to be human, to be made in the image and likeness of God. We are not alone there. God who dwelt among us and suffered just like us, for us, is with us. Then may we come to better comprehend the miracle, the joy, the in/break of a new creation bringing us renewed hope and closer communion with God and with each other. After a year such as this, certainly we can allow the fullness of Good Friday and Holy Saturday to in/break our lives in these next two days.
Sunday is coming… but not yet.
Karen McClain Kiefer is a late-stage PhD candidate in the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts following previous careers in corporate management, consulting, and pastoral ministry. She is exploring theological and theatrical contexts of ’empty space’ and general human disposition toward it, with emphasis on improvisation (specifically Playback Theatre) and Holy Saturday. Since 2017, Karen has led or advised ITIA’s Transept group, a postgraduate student-led group of multidisciplinary practicing artists. As Editor of Transpositions, she is fostering a closer partnership between Transpositions and Transept, along with Associate Editor, Ewan Bowlby.
Pictured is Khora, her ‘Holy Saturday’ installation piece from Transept’s 2019 exhibition space( )between.