Everything is made more meaningful in this world by pause. Think of it. Mark Twain wrote a whole essay about the importance of the pause in story telling. And then he practiced it in his writing. We use the phrase “great comic timing” to praise a comedian who puts in an effective pause at just the right moment. “Joy to the World” is just the notes down the scale without the holds and pauses. Pausing makes whatever we have to wait for seem more important. Of course we also chirp platitudes like “S/he who hesitates is lost” as well. Sometimes life demands immediacy. Split seconds determine medals. A pause to reflect is not in an Olympian’s training schedule. And, for the most part, we resist pausing in our daily lives, too. It seems to me that pausing is more the stuff of artists – poets, musicians, writers, and the like. Photographers have to be quick, but they are trying to capture just the right pause.
I wonder are there pauses in the universe? Do the orbits of the planets have built in pauses? Or do they rumble inexorably on? I wish I had been more interested in learning physics than I was fearful of taking a hard class in which I might get a bad grade. But I was too young to be wise. Of course, the scriptural view of the stars and planets is that pausing is perfectly possible. The sun is stopped in her course. Even God rested (or created the pause) on thje seventh day.
Maybe one of the important lessons to learn this side of eternity (the pauseless existence?) is how and when to pause, to get our holy timing right, to learn how to create meaningful pause.
Those are my thoughts this Holy Saturday morning. The day we remember Jesus didn’t just leap up – like from a magic trick – and shout “Ta da!” There was a respectful pause after death, a time in an unneeded tomb, a moment in which the Universe herself seemed to say, “Wait for it, wait for it!”
And maybe that’s the purpose of this inner hold of grief on my heart. The energy of life is heightened by the hiatus. Like the bulbs that rest and wait. Like the quiet of Holy Saturday before the celebration of new life rushes in on Easter morning. Too soon and we’d take life for granted. Too late and we would give up the wait.
Jesus, did you really know how it was going to go? Or, like me, did you have to hold on to faith in the darkness? I like to think you had to wait. Just like us. So that you know the tension that pause creates — the “already, but not yet” existence of human beings. We wait with you. Ready to be flung into joy. Help us hold the pause just long enough to make your joke work for the crowd. Amen.