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Not Knowing

Updated: Apr 9, 2020

Take courage and wait (Psalm 27v14)

The picture you see on the left is called the Anastasis or resurrection icon. Take some time to look at. Follow the imagery around the picture, notice which way your eyes are taken on their journey, what stands out to you, what makes you question, what you like or don’t like about it. This is the icon traditionally used by the Orthodox Church on Holy Saturday.

Holy Saturday is often a sort of blank day. What are we meant to think, between the grief and drama of Good Friday and the celebration of Easter Day? It is a time of ‘not knowing’, it is also a time of stasis. In ‘A little book of unknowing’ Jennifer Kavanagh quotes Judy Clinton “If we act too quickly out of a fear of being in ‘don’t know’ we only superimpose on our lives that which we have already known. If we can have the courage to stay in the not knowing state a new reality will come up out of the circumstances within which we find ourselves.” Holding uncertainty is a difficult thing but this is what Holy Saturday is all about. If we look at the icon, we see that rather than an aurora of light around the Christ figure, we find a halo of darkness. This is where we are in the Easter story: a time of darkness, of stumbling around in the dark.

In many ways we will be feeling like this in our current situation. There is a not knowing about the virus, we cannot say as yet what the outcome will be, how many will live or die or how long we will have to stay in lockdown. It’s a very tough time for all of us in different ways. All we can hope is that we learn from this experience, that we find that ‘new reality’. This asks us to have faith despite our doubts. As the Northumbrian Community evening prayer says “ You have always lightened this darkness of ours; and though the night is here, today we believe.”

The second picture is of an artist’s book that I made. Its cover shows dualistic words that we often use such as to/from or ebb/flow. Inside the book are a variety of ampersands. The point being that we often live in the ‘and’ – the in-between, the place of not knowing; a time of stasis. Life is rarely as simple as to and from.

Take time to look at the pictures again and consider these questions:

What is dark for you at the moment?

What don’t you know or uncertain about?

What do you have faith and hope in?

Meditative action:

You will need a series of circular objects from small to large, pencil, paper, felt tips if you have them or other way of colouring (pencil, biro etc)

- draw around your largest round object with the pencil, then place the next largest object inside it and draw around it. Keep going inwards until you have draw around all your circular objects.

- Now colour each circle as you wish, thinking about the aura of darkness and light. You may wish to make two versions, one with dark in the centre going out to light and vice versa. What darkness do you see in the world we live in? And what darkness do you find within? What hope/light do you find outside in the world we live in? And what hope do you find within yourself? If you are a person of faith you may like to invite or find God into the darkness and the light

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