Life is a journey. Yes, that’s a grand cliché. But it’s still true and it’s one of the most endearing and enduring ways that we describe how we live.
Life is a journey. Or, if you’re Tom Cochrane, life is a highway (legendary song, by the way). We might be on the right track, we might have taken a wrong turn, lost our way or strayed from the path, but we journey on. One of my favourite quotes about our life journey is these words by Spanish poet Antonio Machado: “wanderer, there is no road, the road is made by walking. By walking one makes the road, and upon glancing behind one sees the path that never will be trod again. Wanderer, there is no road — only waves upon the sea.” Every step is new, fresh and different and there’s no going back.
Wherever our journey takes us, we meet people and have experiences that help to form who we are. Good or bad, we’re constantly learning and growing with each moment. Each of our journeys is our own and wherever we are on that journey, wherever we may think we’re headed, we don’t travel alone.
We meet God - that’s the name I use - you might say the spirit of life or love or the energy of life, but however you know this force that connects us, inspires us and enlivens us (literally), it does so with every step. Say it that way and you can even call it The Force if you want to, I imagine it’s where George Lucas got the idea from anyway. And the Force is strong in many people and places and things. When we meet them in our lives we might call them teachers or mentors or experiences that transform or inspire us. Maybe we don’t even see it that way in the moment and only realize it later. We just need to look with open hearts and be ready to welcome that connection, no matter how unexpected it may be.
Each of the gospels records a story, or more than one, of the resurrected Jesus being seen. Even though John singles out Thomas as an example, none of Jesus’ closest companions recognize him at first. It’s only when he offers proof or some action that’s Jesus-like that they know who it is. This is how we’ll see Jesus alive today, by recognizing the divine spirit Jesus shows us in each and every one of us, in every living thing and throughout creation.
It can be hard for us to see sometimes, so here are these stories of Jesus’ closest companions coming to understand and “see” him. But there’s one that doesn’t feature the eleven chosen disciples or the women who were at the tomb. Not holy saints, but just two ordinary folks on a journey.
Luke tells this story of two followers of Jesus, one un-named and one whose name we only know from this single incident. They’re walking to Emmaus, a location archeologists don’t know for sure even existed. They meet Jesus on the way but don’t recognize him, even though he teaches them all about the purpose of the Messiah revealed in scripture. They don’t recognize him until he breaks bread that evening, just like Jesus, and then vanishes.
So, just to recap. Two people we don’t know were on a journey to somewhere we don’t know when they meet someone they don’t know who teaches them something that transforms their life. And then they recognize it’s Jesus.
Isn’t that the journey of every life? Image how often we encounter Jesus when we engage the journey, welcome the stranger and embrace the spirit.