While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” Luke 24:15-17a
The disciples were on the road to Emmaus after Jesus’ death. Jesus came and walked with them, yet the disciples in their grief could not recognize him. If we consider Jerusalem to be the place of tragedy and loss, and Emmaus to be the destination for escape and denial, I imagine we have all journeyed that road at one time or another. Maybe some of you are there right now.
Eric Burtness writes in Beyond Question,
They were on their way to Emmaus. Maybe they just wanted to escape. Maybe they planned to return to the way things were before they met Jesus. Frederick Buechner writes: “Emmaus is whatever we do or wherever we go to make ourselves forget that the world holds nothing sacred, that even the wisest and bravest and loveliest decay and die… Emmaus is where we go, where these two went, to try to forget about Jesus and the great failure of his life.” (The Magnificent Defeat, New York: Harper Collins, 1985)
I remember going through a particularly dark period in my life where I was necessarily out of town and away from my family. I called my husband and said, “Just talk to me about the stuff of daily life. I don’t want to talk about what I’m going through right now. I just want to hear about normal life. What’s happening with our girls. What’s happening with you.”
When our soul has been sucked nearly dry by the demands of crises, our heart longs for normalcy. Sometimes we need to put the tragedy we are experiencing into words to be heard by someone who truly cares. And sometimes we know that we can’t relive very difficult things one more time at that moment. Sometimes we just need a spark of light in the darkness to offer a glimmer of hope that life won’t always be this hard, and our hearts won’t always hurt this much.
I think that’s where the disciples hearts were that day on the road to Emmaus. Scripture says, “They stood still for they were very sad.”
Have you ever been in that place? Madeleine L’Engle is one of my favorite authors. She wrote, “Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light.” (A Ring of Endless Light)
*Questions to Ponder
* Name a “Jerusalem” in your life, a place or time or event in which you experienced hurt or pain that shook the foundations of your life. Then name an “Emmaus” in your life, a place you go to escape or something you do when you’ve lost your sense of direction.
* How do you recognize Jesus’ presence during your life’s journey?
I’d love to hear your answers.
* Prayer for today
* Precious Lord, gentle Jesus, sometimes life is really difficult and we lose our sense of direction. At those times, help us recognize your presence in our midst. Join our conversations and walk with us. In you holy name. Amen.
* Material from Book of Faith Lenten Journey: Beyond Question by Eric Burtness copyright © 2012 Augsburg Fortress. Posted by permission. All rights reserved.