For various reasons, I had the opportunity to spend a considerable amount of study time with the Road to Emmaus story this week (Luke 24:13-35, in case you want to read it), and it has set me to pondering further some things that, well, I have been pondering. As I was reading from various commentaries, I was struck by one particular comment: that, in the eyes of this analyst, one of the signs of a good story (particular a story written to instruct and guide) is that it is incomplete — there are lots of “spaces” in the tale, allowing we the readers of that tale to fill in the blanks. And how we fill in those blanks relates directly to what we ourselves need to learn from the story at hand. In other words, given the right framework, our human minds and spirits and our desire to grow in faith will take us where we need to go for what we need to learn or, well, to see.
I must admit, that worked for me. As our take away, those of us in the group studying the text are supposed to spend at least a day this week working on our “seeing” — just one day spent perhaps more mindful of the gifts all around us and the angels who walk beside us, the gifts of God we so tend to ignore, the gifts that would guide us ever further on our journey.
Recently, I have had my eyes (and my ears) opened rather abruptly. And not a little opening — it feels to me like my vision has gone from seeing through the eye of a needle to more like a view created that panoramic setting on my digital camera in scope. And, I find myself staring directly into the eyes of a beast that I have done my best to run from my whole life: my own true nature.
Let me explain. Most of my life, if you had asked me, I would tell you that my best skills and my best self are apparent when I am helping — when I am the deputy, not the chief; when I am the helper, not the ringleader. I’m guessing that some of you who know me well are rolling with laughter right now, but that is how I have tended to see myself. Put me in the choir, not out in front; make me one of the group; blend (yes, I said blend) me into the community.
I now understand, my eyes are open, my ears can hear: this is not my total truth and probably not my best truth. And, given how many times I have tried to live that way and failed, no matter how many times experience and faith bring me full circle to confront it, I have as yet failed to learn this simple lesson of who I am. And that failure to learn has brought to me a life of stops and starts and at times, procrastination, chaos.
Open my eyes. I am not wallpaper. People notice me. I am capable of great collaboration, but I am at my best as an entrepreneur, creating something new from a pile of string and paste. I am never at my best when I am trying to fit in, to conform.
All this from Luke 24? Well, yes and no. These are things that have been rattling around inside me for several weeks now. But our story from Luke certainly brings it home, puts it in a place that I cannot ignore or explain away. Our passage from Luke makes me think about a greeting used often in my old days with Unity School, a greeting that is actually a modification of the translation of the word Namaste, that saluation from Nepal used often in Yogic practice — the greeting was “The Christ in me greets the Christ in you (Namaste actually being closer to “The Divinity in me respects the Divinity in you.”)
I won’t even attempt to explore the theological validity of this statement, because I know it opens up a whole can of worms, but it is a statement that for me is comforting and a great reminder that we are all one in the Spirit. And, back to our story, I have to wonder, wasn’t that part of Jesus’ purpose for joining our friends, and indeed us, on the road to Emmaus? So that we see the part of ourselves that is that little spark of divinity? Isn’t that what our call or purpose, actually is — that little spark of divinity that swims among all the rest of our all-too-human selves, a spark to be nurtured and shared? Perhaps that is why, after the breaking of the bread, after the moment when they truly recognized Him, that Jesus vanishes before their very eyes. Once they were able to see that spark of the divine, he didn’t need to be there…once they could see a tiny glimpse of their own true nature.
So, if I have a prayer today and for many days to follow, it is simply this, one of my favorite hymns:
Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my eyes, illumine me,
And, while I’m singing it over and over again today, I will also remember the final part of our story: yes, they had a glimpse, but it was only through community, only through sharing it among themselves and rushing back to share it with the their extended community in Jerusalem, that the spark or realization or whatever you want to call it, was truly nurtured and grew and spread.
All this, from one little story.