Solemn Saturday

5 May 2022 | Jesus Christ | 0 comments


A solemn, sombre, leaden Saturday –

the muscles and joints of the day lie slack.

Silence entombed in stillness – dread Sabbath.

Who can be a believer on this day?

I’ve come so far to shed tears here at last

in the city of my heart. No one stirs.

Faith creeps into its own receptacles.

What an absence! Is there life somewhere deep

where death has lain entranced for countless years?

An ancient multitude long forgotten

in the blackest sinews of the cold earth?

Can I find them in the my own recesses

calling for spirit and light and rebirth?

Not I, but only the most human part

of what counts in me as creation

can descend to hell and break its magic.

But still the day’s observance must go on.

What is to observe if God has gone down

to the sightless, the unobserved, the lost,

and clasped them in a permanent embrace?


Ranald Macdonald (1955-2014), (Jay Landar), The Sacred City, 31st March 2013

Notes from the Compiler

This poem, written by my Scottish cousin, reflects our uncertainties about where Jesus was, and what he was doing in the tomb, before his joyful resurrection on Easter Day. You may like to turn up another perceptive poem on 'faithshapers' for Holy Saturday by R S Thomas (1913-2000), 'Holy Saturday'; and with it the challenge of a line by the former poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy (1955- ). What will I do with my 'left life?' This also echoes the challenge of Mary Oliver (1935-2019), 'The Summer Day' 1990, and brings back the memory of a personal 'call' in my school library in 1949! 'Tell me what you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?' 'The Summer Day' 1990. I believe Ranald Macdonald's poem ends on a sombre but profoundly hopeful note, for moments of our deepest depression!


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