It Happened on the Road

Week of April 30, 2017

Irish poet Seamus Heaney once wrote, “Did the sea define the land or the land the sea?” With the two disciples on the road, did their hearts define the journey or the journey define their hearts?  I often think about that as the two walked the road.  They asked each other, “were not our hearts burning inside us as we walked along the way?”  Was there an openness before they began walking which allowed them to be open to the words of Jesus, or did walking with Jesus open up their hearts? While we will never know the answer, it is an important starting point.  Our ability to recognize and receive Jesus is based on our openness.  Does that openness come from desire and hunger?  Does that openness come from experience?  For me I believe it is a mixture of both.  This past year when I was walking the shores of Waterville, Ireland my prayer and openness was intense.  The surroundings helped.  The early morning round of golf walking 18 holes by myself, miles of seashore to explore and a chapel to pray in completed the picture. The quiet and simplicity was amazingly uplifting. I went there seeking and longing and God responded.  But what I experienced there also kept me seeking and wanting more.  It is a mixture of both.

Jesus meets us right where we are on the road.  No matter what we are seeking, He joins us.  At times we may even be closed because of pain and sorrow, yet He finds a way to open us up just to hold us.  The disciples recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread.  They were energized and ran to tell the others, retracing the exact miles they had walked.  The retracing of steps with joy also leads us to a deeper awareness knowing that the Lord has walked with us the entire time.  In one of my rooms there are three pictures I look at each day to help me stay attuned to how God journeys with us.  The first is a golf hole looking forward at it from the fairway.  It reminds me to look ahead for the day.  The middle is one of my golf bag on a bridge.  It invites me to think about the present moment and how we are to be bridges for those who need to cross over in the present moment.  The third is another golf hole looking back from the green to the tee box.  It is a reminder not to forget where you have come from and what it took to get there.  Each morning I think about how God will be found in all three directions in my life that day.

Jesus meets us on the way, right where we are.

Reverend John J. Ouper