On Holy Saturday, I took a hike with my children. It was a mild day, and as we wound around a well-beaten trail, I was surprised by all the death and decay around us. It has been so cold here in the northeast that signs of spring are still few and far between. There were tiny buds on some of the trees, a few hardy plants had greened up, and several clumps of early-spring daffodils looked cheerful. But for the most part, the woods remained dead and dormant, waiting for something to happen.
It was meaningful, considering the day, and the expectation we feel on that strange and holy day. Signs of a long hard winter were everywhere, but I knew the dead leaves under our feet would break down and fertilize the soil, which would bring forth life. Animals would take refuge in and under the trees that had fallen during storms. Death was itself beautiful, because it anticipated and brought forth life. An endless winter would lose its beauty – but a winter that leads to spring is tolerable and even lovely – like the body of our Lord in the rocky tomb.
The woods and the tomb anticipate; they already begin to sing the believer’s triumphant song: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:54-55)