The hospital released Harper on the Saturday afternoon before Easter with strict instructions to get plenty of rest, to not lift anything over five pounds, and to make a follow up appointment with her doctor in one week. She was off all medications for the most part, but was sent home with some pretty strong pain killers if another bad headache should hit. It felt good to sit in her own chairs, use her favorite mug, and sit in front of the lit fireplace, even if it wasn’t crackling and didn’t smell of burning wood. The headaches had subsided for the most part, and she felt stronger; but she still used the walker because of periodic dizzy spells. She couldn’t risk a fall. Being out of the hospital was a huge relief, and a gentle peace filled her body and mind.
Blaise had been to the market and jam-packed her fridge with healthy vegan choices, and she noticed he must have found other homes for her gifted casseroles, since there was not much left in her freezer but some take-out packets from her favorite café and some vegan ice cream. After getting her settled, he had zipped out to do a couple of errands, but promised to return by supper. He said he had great news from the fellowship to tell her. In the meantime, Elise and June would check in on her periodically. She tried to read a devotional book on the end table, but her mind kept wandering. What a crazy world. She could not have predicted all that had happened these past few months, and she closed her eyes and prayed a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s protection and intervention in her life.
When she opened her eyes again, it was dark in the room except for the lamp by the overstuffed chair where Blaise was seated. She was lying down on the couch with a pillow at her head and a warm blanket wrapped around her. Her shoes were gone, replaced by wooly socks. Blaise had been reading his Bible, and the soft light lit his face in a golden glow. He set the book down and leaned forward, smiling. “Hey, sleepy head; I thought maybe you were going to sleep through supper.” He glanced at his wristwatch: “Well, let me re-phrase that: It looks like you slept through supper.”
“I guess I dozed off.” She yawned and tried to sit up.
Blaise got up and helped her to a seated position, wrapping the blanket snugly around her knees. “Are you hungry?”
“What time is it?”
“It’s just after eight. With no beeps and interruptions from hospital routine, you totally sacked out. I got here about five, and Elise told me she had checked on you several times, but you were sleeping so soundly, she opted not to disturb you, except to cover you with a blanket. When I got here, I gave her strict instructions not to let Mum sing some of her greatest hits; and thankfully, she has complied. I laid you back on that pillow, and you never even stirred, other than a few little snores.”
“Huh, I don’t snore!” She pretended to be indignant.
“Okay, not really snores—just very feminine whiffles. You were dead to the world. Oh . . . thankfully, not. Bad choice of words.”
“Well, not dead is good, and whiffles I accept. I must have slept really hard because I . . .” and here she yawned, “because I feel dopey, and I haven’t had any drugs since I left the hospital. Hopefully, I can put all of that stuff behind me.”
“So, are you hungry? I bought some vegan stroganoff from Ingrid’s Diner. It’s cold now, but I could heat it quickly in the microwave.”
“That sounds good to me. This is the first time I’ve felt really hungry, I think.”
Blaise dished out a couple of portions. Harper still wasn’t eating as much in quantity, but she thoroughly enjoyed the gourmet fare. “If I never see another wimpy asparagus spear like what the cafeteria served, it will be too soon. This tastes awesome! I typically don’t like to overuse that word, but delicious just wasn’t enough.” She put her hand over her mouth, trying not to talk with her mouth full. “Thank you for this—and for everything.”
“No problem? Do you have room for ice cream? I got some chocolate fudge to top it with—non-dairy, of course.”
“I think I would have gone even for the dairy at this point. That sounds so good. You are spoiling me.”
“I’m spoiling me, too. This food is decadent, compared to my simple rice and beans fare.”
Harper had overestimated her hunger, and halfway through the ice cream, she had to cover it and put it in the freezer to save for another time. She had also overestimated her energy reserves, so Blaise called in Elise to help Harper get ready for bed. She was actually doing well by herself; but until she was stronger, Blaise felt more comfortable having Elise with her. After Harper was safely tucked in bed, Blaise went in and sat by her side.
“The fellowship—I mean, Roots . . .” He corrected himself and smiled. Roots prayed for you last night. We had a Good Friday service that was really great. I’ve been having a hard time waiting to tell you what happened. I didn’t give a message; we just sang and shared our stories. My dad would have called that ‘testimony time,’ but most of this group would not have identified with that term. When we got to prayer time, several people asked to pray for you. We have been all along, of course; but many felt led to pray for specific things—for you and for Roots. It was a sweet time of prayer and fellowship, but something really awesome happened. I know, there’s that word again; but trust me this was awesome! After prayer, Max stood up and said he would like to share a poem he had written. I asked him for a copy so I could read it to you. It goes like this:
The Silence of Saturday
Do you hear the silence in the tomb—hard and lifeless—vacuous hopes of my heart buried in a borrowed grave with one who would save us?
Do you hear the silence in the streets where palms, faded and brittle, blow to the wadis by dry desert winds—blow along with our visions of an overcoming respite?
And the pain of that black moment has dissolved in my tears and loss, and we mourn for Him, but probably more for ourselves—myself.
And in the weeping and the regularity of another’s day, a great silence fills and empties me of will and belief. Behind my eyes, inside my head, the palpable quiet pushes out hope; and in my hands where once we held His bread and wine, I hold despair, pressed down, dark, and bloody.
When he finished, the room was totally silent. Then Max gently shared some of his story, how he was one to resist the Christ, to mock Him, to discount Him from his life. He told the group that his personal sins had crucified the Lord—had driven the nails, had pierced His side, had pressed the sharp crown of thorns into His brow; and yet, because of Jesus’ great love, He died for us. He endured the immense suffering before we even considered repentance. It was a powerful moment, Harper. Then one by one, we heard people cry out to God in what really sounded like grief, asking God for forgiveness. Weeping. Others started thanking God for what He had suffered for them. There was almost a visible glow in the room as the Holy Spirit moved on people in various ways. And after a time, when I asked if there were those who wanted to receive Christ as Savior, people popped up all over the room. It was awesome. We decided that in addition to our regular Friday service, we would meet again tomorrow evening, too, to celebrate Easter Sunday. Hopefully, you will feel strong enough to come. God is doing something in that group, and I wanted to share it.”
Harper was really touched by Blaise’s account of the service and couldn’t help but marvel at all God was doing. “I have often thought of how hopeless Christ’s followers would have felt between Friday and Sunday. I’ve felt that despair; at least, in part—the in-between time, the time of loss, when you feel abandoned and are barely holding on. Then when you get to the other side of the blackness, it is hard to believe things were ever so dark . . . so lifeless.”
“I agree. I have been there, too. I pray only that we hold close His words and remember His deeds because when hard times come, and they will again, we will be quick to forget what God has done for us. Oh, Lord, may we never forget.”
“Something just came to my mind as we were talking. The silence of Saturday births rejoicing when God breathes, and the Son inhales again.”
“Oh, I love that, Harper. Thank you, God.”
“Don’t let me forget, Blaise. I don’t ever want to go back to that empty place.”
“We will remind each other of what He has done. When you are weak, I will be strong; when I am weak, you will be strong. May it be. Now get some sleep. I will be out on the couch tonight if you need anything.” And with that, he cradled her face in his hands and kissed her gently. He left the room quietly, pulling the door to, as Harper closed her eyes and drifted off.