|The Appalachian Trail, April 2015|
Last week I found myself pondering Luke 24, specifically verses 13-32. It's in the lectionary cycle but for some reason it resonates with me this year. I suppose it's the idea of a journey -- the Camino de Santiago rears its knowing head once again.
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
“What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.
Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”I think it has been working its way inside me because it reflects so much about some of the lessons I learned on the Camino pilgrimage.
Here, the disciples were confused and seeking answers. They already knew what to expect and had been told so. Repeatedly. Even Jesus reminds them of it right then and there, and yet they refused to believe. Cynicism can be a mighty beast that wins out over even your own eyes at times.
Maybe it was the tiring journey itself that obscured their senses. I'm not leaning towards that because there were repeated vignettes of disciples denying what they were observing. It was sticking with the assumed answer, the predispositions that outweighed hope. And in many ways, it's far easier to be puzzled and content than to deal with the disruptive energy of cognitive dissonance.
But at some point, they open their eyes. And once opened, there was no need for Jesus to be guiding them, because the physical Jesus was no longer needed. The spirit of Jesus was all they needed once awakened. In an odd twist of trust, once you've glimpsed the evidence, the evidence is no longer necessary.
Marriage is such a journey. It's been about a year since we married and I'm forever amazed. With every meal together, with every step we take, I realize ever more strongly that I'm in a vocation and path that was set for me by God. The evidence isn't needed any longer. I just experience the spirit moving around us.
My camino pilgrimage was in some ways like the journey these disciples took. I embarked on a walk to find out truth, to seek clarity, to walk with an open mind to learn about myself and my Creator. And as can be read in the blog posts preceding the pilgrimage, I was blindfolded by my own expectations and pre-conceived notions. I didn't see what I had been seeing, I didn't remember what I had been told.
Instead, it was in the breaking of bread, in sitting and sharing stories, in the gentle touch, in sharing time together with the stranger that we discover God in our midst. Verse 32 screams out to me: "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road." This is precisely my feelings as I trudged with my fellow travelers. It wasn't when I was being all contemplative, inside my head, alone in my thoughts. It was when I was walking the journey with the stranger who was Jesus that my heart burned.
So I think about all the other blinders and visual obstructions and biases that keep me from making progress on my journey. As I consider them, I remind myself to be open to the stranger, to be sharing in spirit, to be unafraid of the confusion. The resurrection of Easter can be with us every day we do so.
I pray all of our hearts can burn as well, as we invite the Creator to walk with us.