Introductory Note:

I serve as a spiritual director with children at Haven House, a transitional facility for homeless families in Olathe Colorado. They originally published this article shortly after Easter 2015.

Lacy Finn Borgo

At this writ­ing it is Tues­day of Holy Week, arguably the sad­dest week of the year. This week, our Lord dies, hope dies and we are left with noth­ing but the emp­ty space of Holy Sat­ur­day. The pause of Holy Sat­ur­day is essen­tial for the cel­e­bra­tion of East­er Sun­day. The chil­dren at Haven House have taught me that they need both. 

There is a com­mon theme among the chil­dren at Haven House. Each time I sit with a child in spir­i­tu­al direc­tion, I first ask them to choose an image of Jesus with chil­dren from a stash of many. This is our rhythm when they come. They choose the pic­ture of Jesus they most need to see and then togeth­er we turn on a bat­tery-pow­ered can­dle to remind us that God is with us. Next they are invit­ed to share their thoughts about the image. Chil­dren who have heard Bible sto­ries usu­al­ly tell me some­thing about Jesus’ death, even chil­dren who know lit­tle about Jesus know about his death. Some even know the grue­some details. The chil­dren at Haven House know death; they know empti­ness, lone­li­ness, and hope­less­ness. Often I will say, Did you know, God brought him back to life?” With­out fail, I am met with blank stares and even dis­agree­ment. Death they know, res­ur­rec­tion is hard to imag­ine. Holy Saturday. 

In the last two weeks dur­ing spir­i­tu­al direc­tion, we have inter­act­ed with a wood­en set of objects that depict the death, bur­ial and res­ur­rec­tion of Jesus with them we play out the whole story — res­ur­rec­tion and all. 

With the objects, I tell the sto­ry first and then invite the chil­dren to play with the pieces and retell the part that mat­ters most to them. They are invit­ed to add their own twists and turns, as this is how they make His sto­ry, their sto­ry. This is also how they mourn their own sor­rows. Chil­dren often weave their pain into Christ’s pain. In the death and sad­ness of Christ they are able to give voice to their own pain. We keep the can­dle near, to remind us that even in great pain, and great sad­ness, God is near. On Holy Sat­ur­day — God is near. 

We are care­ful to include Jesus’ res­ur­rec­tion each time. For these chil­dren, play­ing out the res­ur­rec­tion is pure­ly Spir­it led. Through their imag­i­na­tions the Spir­it gives life to the faint hope that God is not only near dur­ing death, but also can res­ur­rect life from death itself. In the res­ur­rec­tion of Christ there is hope and joy– and as one child taught me, for­give­ness. In the sto­ry he told of the res­ur­rec­tion — Jesus went chas­ing after the sol­diers who were guard­ing the tomb. Hey, no wait,” he said, I for­give you, come back.” On East­er Sun­day — God is near. 

Hope lives in Jesus’ res­ur­rec­tion. The hope that declares God is with you in your great­est pain, suf­fer­ing and sor­row. The hope that declares God is with you even if you are buried under shame, doubt and fear. The hope that says Hey, no wait. I for­give you, come back.” 

The hope that says there is some­thing bet­ter, unbe­liev­ably bet­ter, coming.

Text First Published April 2015

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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