Sunday, 8 May 2011

On the Road

"Our battered suitcases were  piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life."
- Jack Kerouac, On the Road.

The reading today, the account of the road to Emmaus, is one  I always find meaningful  and moving. This post resurrection appearance seems to encapsulate most tellingly the nature of  the joys and difficulties of living beyond  Easter. I did not blog about the Resurrection this year, I may well do next year, but it is an event that is much harder to grasp than the crucifixion. Most of us can identify with the idea of a suffering Christ - simply because suffering and failure are so much a part of being human- but the Resurrection defies understanding,and, as we see in the story of doubting Thomas, it can defy belief. The appearances of Christ seem to continue the theme of the elusive; Christ is  a complete stranger who turns up while other things are happening.
If the Resurrection is hard to grasp, the practicalities of continuing after the Resurrection are even more difficult. No matter how intense the awe and exultation, the mundane practicalities of life reassert themselves, the doubts creep in, we remain mortal, our faith fails to live up to the promise of Easter. The appearances of Jesus give us a hope that there will be still be tangible moments when we realise that God remains with us - but they also tell us that that we may not always recognise those moments until after the event. A key element  is the unrecognisable nature of the risen Christ. He is encountered at inbetween moments,  at daybreak out fishing,  on a long dusty road, or when our eyes are blinded with tears. We realise too late what we have encountered, sometimes we know with certainty, but have no proof, at other times we half know - but we did not recognise him. We are stupid, we are too dumb for words, our hearts burned with a knowledge that our eyes and mind could not comprehend. At times his presence is as real as someone who sits and walks and talks and breaks bread with us, at others he is a guess or a glimpse and the minute we try to define him he disappears.
I think this gospel reading teaches, warns and reassures us in so many ways about the reality of living as Easter people when Easter is over.


  1. Another superb post, if I may humbly say so.

  2. Thank you. That always means a lot to me.

  3. Thanks, Sue. A beautiful and perceptive reflection on one of my favourite resurrection appearances.

  4. I like your reflection Sue. One of the reasons why Luke's account of the encounter on the Emmaus Road speaks to me is because the encounter with Jesus happens in the middle of the 'mundane practicalities of life' - travelling, chance conversation with a stranger, the ordinary meal at home. And in it all it's Jesus who takes the initiative.