Growing up, el sábado santo (Holy Saturday) was a day of silence starting on Holy Friday and lasting until Easter. We lived in my Abuela’s home, and her house was never quiet except for those two somber days. Abuela had been an accomplished singer and now taught others to sing. In the suffering Havana of my childhood, food was scarce, water rationed, and there was no electricity most nights; it could have been a hopeless existence. But my grandmother taught me to play the piano and sing even in the dark, I just needed my fingers, my memory of their place on the keyboard, and to lift my voice. Music was an act of faith. But on Holy Saturday we abstained from beauty to join the grieving Creation. We would wait for the dawn and the music would return.
When I was ripped from my home by political cataclysms I couldn’t possibly understand, the music went silent. Immigrants undergo an excruciating process, thrown into a dark and silent place, much like the tomb, where they are stripped of their identity, their loved ones, their language, their voice. But we believe the Resurrection comes. Kind neighbors gave us an old piano, I struggled to learn the new language, schoolmates helped and explained, and when I was older, a Jesuit university offered me a home again. I sang in the choir and I am singing in that choir still.
As you enter into Holy Saturday, try to feel the deep and dark silence of the exile, the refugee, the displaced millions around the world. Be with them and then commit to giving them a home, a place where there is music, even in the dark.
Cecilia González-Andrieu is professor of theology at Loyola Marymount University, member of the board of the Ignatian Solidarity Network, and author of Bridge to Wonder: Art as Gospel of Beauty.
La doctora Cecilia González-Andrieu es profesora de teología en Loyola Marymount University y es la autora del libro Bridge to Wonder: Art as a Gospel of Beauty.