After a very long flight from Tel Aviv to Newark, re-entry through customs and security was longer and more convoluted than in Tel Aviv. We said goodbye to Margaret and Terry, who flew home to Maine. Then, the rest of us journeyed on to Seattle, where the temperature is distinctly NOT in the 70’s. Just a few hours ago, several of us walked on the ramparts of the Old City Jerusalem, overlooking the roofs and getting a little too much sun.
At our final gathering in the Gloria Hotel in Jerusalem, we read aloud Luke 24:13-35 – the road to Emmaus story. Originally, we had planned to go to one of the “traditional” sites that Christians have imagined to be one of the places this story might have occurred. But, because everyone wanted a little more free time on our last day, we dropped that one last church and stayed a few hours longer in Jerusalem. A side room off the lobby of the hotel became our Emmaus. Cynthia read this poem from by Macrina Wiederkehr.
Tourist or Pilgrim by Macrina Wiederkehr, from Seasons of the Heart
I stand on the edge of myself and wonder,
Where is home?
Oh, where is the place
where beauty will last?
When will I be safe?
My tourist heart is wearing me out
I am so tired of seeking
for treasures that tarnish.
How much longer, Lord?
Oh, which way is home?
My luggage is heavy
It is weighing me down.
I am hungry for the holy ground of home.
Then suddenly, overpowering me
with the truth, a voice within me
gentles me, and says:
There is a power in you, a truth in you
that has not yet been tapped.
You are blinded
with a blindness that is deep
for you’ve not loved the pilgrim in you yet.
There is a road
that runs straight through your heart.
Walk on it.
To be a pilgrim means
to be on the move, slowly
to notice your luggage becoming lighter
to be seeking for treasures that do not rust
to be comfortable with your heart’s questions
to be moving toward the holy ground of home
with empty hands and bare feet.
And yet, you cannot reach that home
until you’ve loved the pilgrim in you
One must be comfortable
before one’s feet can touch the homeland.
Do you want to go home?
There’s a road that runs
straight through your heart.
Walk on it.
Then, we read the passage from Luke and I asked the group to consider where they may have found Jesus long the way. Our answers were wide-ranging … some in moments of worship, others in the meetings with the Parents Circle or the orphanage in Bethlehem. I found Jesus in the midst of this fabulous group: in their moments of awe when they recognized that they were walking in a place that Jesus might have walked; in their prayers, laughter, and occasional tears; and in their deep joy in traveling this road together.
Lord Jesus, stay with us, for evening is at hand and the day is past; be our companion in the way, kindle our hearts, and awaken hope, that we may know you as you are revealed in Scripture and the breaking of bread. Grant this for the sake of your love. Amen.