Saturday, April 16, 2022

The hope of Holy Saturday potatoes

In the overcast, slight morning chill of Holy Saturday, the kids and I scurried into the backyard with shovels, seeds, and a few small pieces of sprouted potatoes for planting. Our shovels hacked away at the firm earth, overturning large lumps of red-brown dirt. Gripping my shovel, I gently began chopping at the big pieces to loosen them. Suddenly, my shovel stopped moving as it hit something: the raw flesh of a fresh potato. Shocked, I called over my sons and they eagerly pushed through the dirt to uncover our prize. There it was: a small potato, waiting for us. Intrigued, the kids and I began digging through the dirt more carefully, with the hope that perhaps we would find another treasure. 

Yes, there it was—very small, but a potato, nonetheless. Within the next few minutes, my children and I found a total of six potatoes. Most would only make a small mouthful or two of food, but what does that matter? It was an unexpected delight.

I’m very good at killing plants, but last year, I chopped some sprouted potatoes and we buried them in the ground. We excitedly watched as green stalks began to rise and leaves started to form. Finally, it was time to harvest, and my children eagerly plunged their small fingers into the dirt, scrounging around for these small vegetables. Squeals and shouts of glee filled the air when a hand grasped the smooth, rounded surface of a small potato. 

We scoured our garden patch and delighted in this process, finding a small number of potatoes that my firstborn proudly chopped and added to the skillet for dinner one night. This was months ago; surely, we found all of the potatoes long before snow and ice and frost adorned the ground.

And yet, on this Holy Saturday morning, as we pondered the body of our Lord concealed in the tomb, we found half a dozen potatoes. 

Many centuries ago, a small group of women walked to a tomb one morning. They brought spices, so that they could anoint the body of their deceased friend. They asked each other how they would manage to roll the heavy stone back from the tomb, so that they could complete their loving, compassionate work. Little did they know that their plans would not take place that morning; God had another plan.

“When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back; it was very large. On entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed. He said to them, “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold, the place where they laid him.” (Mark 16:4-6)

We may think that a situation is hopeless, and that none of our work or prayers are bearing fruit. We may give up other people or situations as “lost causes,” and push them far from our minds. Yet, someday we may be surprised to discover that just hidden from view is growth, change, life. 

Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, did not remain in the tomb. He rose from the dead, and his resurrection has given us hope that can pierce any darkness.