Emmaus Walks

Reading     Luke 24: 13-35


On the first day of the week, two of the disciples

were going to a village called Emmaus,

about eleven kilometers from Jerusalem,

and talking with each other about all these things that had happened.

While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near

and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.



So many are living out their lives with a kind of quiet desperation or depression of their own kind of ‘we had hoped” it would all turn out differently. Throughout the ages, there seems to be a time in one’s journey down roads and pathways and spiritual happenings that one comes to a dead-end or closed passageway. Everything seems over and the way forward is not clear at all. This ‘we had hoped’ is a difficult place to face and stay with and wonder how God will ever draw forth any positive outcome from this disappointment, this discouragement, this grievous loss of my plans, my dreams, my loved one.


We have drawn our inspiration for this ministry of spiritual direction from the Gospel story of Jesus meeting two disciples on the road to Emmaus. In this account, the two companions were having a conversation, speaking of their discouragement and being without hope after experiencing the happenings of the weekend in Jerusalem. As they were talking about all the things that had happened, suddenly, in their midst comes a 'stranger' who walks the rest of the way with them. But as they journey on, both are listening to his teaching and words, and some mysterious 'stirring within' causes their hearts to burn and they 'recognize' it is the Lord! When ‘this stranger’ is invited into their home to share a meal with them, their eyes are opened and they know mystically, “It is the Lord,”… when he breaks the bread. It is their ‘Easter’ resurrection moment. They get up and leave their home and go on their way experiencing a new understanding of their present reality.

     'Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?"

So today, when we two companions sit together in a spiritual direction visit, both of us are listening to God for the mysterious, ineffable ways God is working within the person’s life situation - be it a period of struggle or discernment or a call to conversion. At some point in the visit, often there is some sense of the presence of God revealed in a word of wisdom... or a renewed sense of purpose ... or a reassuring peace ...and the person moves forward with renewed hope and encouragement for the ongoing human/spiritual journey. The person leaves the conversation and both companions are enkindled and marvel at the nearness once again of the Risen Christ in our midst. Alleluia!

As then, so now, God is the only spiritual director and we are but God's instruments using the spiritual gifts that have been given us for the good of the members of the Mystical Body.  Emmaus walks are happening around us all the time. I invite all of us to be mindful of how God is delighting to pop into our encounters and leave us enkindled with a sense of his nearness and divine care.


A few weeks ago, while at our chapter meetings, I experienced an Emmaus walk that started out as a simple walk down a motherhouse corridor with another sister that ended with an unexpected “were not our hearts burning” encounter with the Risen Christ in our midst.  We had been sharing a brief conversation that moved very quickly into the heart of a personal matter that was difficult and emotionally challenging for me. This sister very tenderly and compassionately, spoke words to me that left me in such consolation and encouragement.  It was almost like she could read my heart and the Spirit spoke through her directly and immediately I was lifted up, encouraged and felt sustained. It was a moment I will treasure and live out of as my journey unfolds. Like those early disciples, I too felt like getting up and going back to my ministry and sharing with ‘you’ and others this good news. The risen Christ is here, alive, amongst us, and we are an Easter people. How blessed this holy season when we can walk more mindfully upon the earth and celebrate those ‘Emmaus walks’ and ‘Emmaus visits’ that steady us and challenge us along life’s journey.

The next time you find yourself slipping into an ‘I had hoped…” why not call up your spiritual director, or go for a walk with your spouse or a good friend and pour out your heart … leaving spaces for listening and instruction… and see what happens. God has great plans for all of us … and the new proclamations are being announced in our midst. Have you an Emmaus story to share? Meditate on the flow of the movement within this wood sculpture. What do you see/experience?


   This wood carving of the Emmaus story,

    was commissioned especially

    for The Upper Room,

    by a local carver-of-wood,

    Herman Falke, a Sacred Heart priest

    It is carved on a 150 year old black ash tree.

               -               A 20th anniversary gift!   













Carrying grace:      Rejoice, my heart is burning with love!


#2 eleanor weldon 2011-05-23 15:58
Wood, smooth,rough, for building, for creating something new. I see the life of Jesus, from his birth in a stable, to his life on earth, to his death on a wooden cross. I see the beauty of Jesus. I see his loving friendship with his friends, his maturing years with Mary and then the ultimate sacrifice of his life, by dying on the cross. The wood is full of the symbols of Jesus' life and love for his friends. Sometimes in life,as with Jesus and his disciples and friends on the road to Emmaus, will I recognize the faces of those who love me and have journeyed with me?
#1 arletteh 2011-05-08 18:38
1)On the top, I see Jesus on the cross,bending over the disciples---2)T wo disciples looking toward Jesus,one has his arms spread, as he explains,dishea rtened—3)Next below, left: I think Jesus(an angel?) on the left;two women, their jar of myrrh on the right(on top of the tomb?) 4)Two women on the right in jubilation posture : He is risen!5)Inside the house-am not quite sure:at the table,a disciple on the right, holding a piece of bread,looking up where Jesus has vanished(?).5) From the centre of the whole sculpture,rays radiating gloriously through the whole section, including the Cross.The whole sculpture is “embraced” by the love of God,as a growing child in a mother’s womb(“I have carved you on the palm of My hand.”

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