Vigil. Defined as a period of watching; spiritual preparation; staying awake when everyone else is asleep. On Holy Saturday, we keep vigil. We watch. We prepare. We stay awake.
Someone reads (the Psalms for one period and the Acts of the Apostles for another) for twenty-four hours straight from the end of the Lamentations service on Holy Friday to the beginning of the Pascha service. Not as many people were able to come this year as in times past, so my family picked up some extra slots.
As I came back throughout the day on Holy Saturday to the tomb, I continued to be touched more and more. As I sat by the tomb, I thought the same thing I do every year, which was actually the topic of Father’s sermon on Holy Friday. When we sit by the tomb, we do not just see the icon, the flowers, and the candles. We do not even see Christ alone. We see ourselves.
I keep vigil by the tomb of Christ. The tomb of my own soul. Sin and death hold me captive in their bonds. I am sick and troubled and bound by the weight of my own transgressions. No one else to blame. No one else to compare to.
So, I read the Psalms by my own grave and watch. I light a candle in the sand in preparation. I stay awake when the call of the bed is strong and persistent in my ear. I keep vigil.
The bonds of sin, the heavy chains of death, will no longer hold men captive. The vigil will not end in darkness. The Light is only a few hours away.