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