The Road to Emmaus

Women's Retreat-1 How many times have I been on the Road to Emmaus?  I don’t know, too many to count.  What happens on Route Emmaus, stays on Route Emmaus…it’s that stretch between then and now that people don’t usually like to talk too much about; traveling is never easy and it’s always hard to explain.   But we travel the Road to Emmaus every day…sometimes as the traveler…sometimes as the stranger.  I remember last summer serving as a hospital chaplain.  The first night that I was on call I was summoned to the ICU to sit with a family as they waited for their loved one to die.  There were eight of us in the room surrounding the bed of the woman who lay dying, and I was clearly the stranger – although I felt more like the traveler.  I listened as the family relived their happy memories – holding each one up like candles in the darkened room to keep away death for just a little longer.  I had nothing to offer; there were no words that I could say to change things or make anything better.  I was an outsider; I had no stories to tell; no memories to relive…yet they wanted me there, because somehow my presence offered comfort.  I have never been so acutely aware of myself in my life.  What am I doing here God?  Representing you?  Me?  Are you sure about this?  When it was time for me to go I prayed with the family.  And as we stood outside the room, one of the woman’s brothers thanked me over and over.  What had I done I wondered.  Later, it became clear…I had embodied the presence of Christ.  Me – the stranger in the room. It is so much easier to see ourselves as the confused travelers, but as Christ’s disciples, we are sometimes called to be the stranger.  Teresa of Avila, the sixteenth century mystic, tells us bluntly what we are to do when she says: Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours.  Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ is to look out on a hurting world.  Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good.  Yours are the hands with which he is to bless now. As we reflect on the Road to Emmaus, let us remember that sometimes we are the stranger sent to assist the confused traveler.


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