Along The Way To Somewhere Else

Every once and awhile, lost in the motion of any given week, while tending my conveyer belt filled with all of the squeaky wheels I have to keep greased – I wonder how it is I got here. It’s not that here is such a bad place, it’s just that I thought I’d be somewhere else by now . . . perhaps, someone else by now. No doubt, I am not alone in feeling as if most of my life has been spent on a treadmill – so much going on, while not really going anywhere. Sure, I could choose to step off the treadmill – but what then?

The idea of choice always has a certain allure – as if anything and everything were possible. But if you’ve lived long enough, you likely know what it means to see plan A work its way down through the alphabet . . . until you find yourself, with the noise of squeaky wheels ringing in your ears, trying to remember which plan letter you’re currently on. Until invariably that reoccurring “what if” daydream about plan A begins to whisper its familiar siren song, only to quickly become the mocking voice of disappointment over what might have been.

46aef803925ee34cf9c3123e86f1e2f4All of this particularly comes to mind as I think about two weary and emotionally depleted travelers, who were on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24: 13-32). They were on their way back from Jerusalem, where they had just experienced a very dramatic pendulum swing — having met a man who had given them a life changing glimpse of hope, one they would have never imagined possible . . . only to have the religious class haul him in before the roman authorities, eventually ending in a scandalous execution. So with heavy hearts, this familiar road seemed especially long and unforgiving . . . and that’s when, unbeknownst to them, Jesus joined them along their way.

They began to explain to him how everything was on the verge of forever changing . . . and then it all fell apart. Sure there were those still holding out hope – but let’s face it, plan A had just crashed and burned beyond all recognition. At this point Jesus interrupts, telling them that God’s plan involves far more than their narrow expectations were allowing for – suffering isn’t derailment, but an important part of the path that must be traveled. These were likely puzzling and unsettling words for the ears of these weary travelers, as they entered into Emmaus. I mean, what could this stranger possibly know about God’s plan? It was at that point when Jesus broke bread and all was made clear.

On this side of the Resurrection, after having internalized its theological significance, and celebrating it as the centerpiece of our faith — sometimes we think about the road we’re on, and wonder if it’s really going anywhere. We begin to wonder if God is off somewhere else on an extended business trip, leaving us here on our own to figure all this stuff out . . . and that’s when Jesus joins us on that road, reminding us that the plan hasn’t changed. So that we might also say “. . . were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road . . ?” ~ Luke 24: 32


Here’s a song my brother Garrison wrote about the Emmaus Road . . .

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The Enchantment of Spring

Already there’s a stirring in the stillness, as things dormant for months begin to make themselves known again. The planet shifts its weight, reaching for the light, for the all too familiar warmth, long absent from this hemisphere. Each passing day seems to sweep what’s left of the thinning shadows off into the shimmering expanse of morning sun spilling over the horizon. These are the days that make one believe promises made about an everlasting day – the promise that all things can be made new. This is the enchantment of spring.

The whole point of a good enchantment is that it allows you to suspend, if only briefly, your normal expectations, your usual way of knowing things – so that a deeper magic of knowing might emerge. So that you might imagine yourself standing in a field of Easter lilies spreading out like a sea of supple white flags waving as if floating on a gentle sun lit breeze.

Then out of the soft rise and fall of this swaying meadow, comes the rousing applause of angelic celebration, like an ancient melody sung by nascent voices. And as you are being swept up in the elation that has overtaken this pastoral setting – you begin to wonder what wonderful thing has occurred that could cause such a music? And then you turn and stare in disbelief — it is the great eucatastrophe of the crucifixion and the empty tomb . . . and you are undone by the sheer weight and wonder of it.

The Passion of Christ is like a winter’s menacingly dark sky looming over God himself, hanging on a cross . . . a darkness cracked wide open by the Resurrection, which moves with the force of a spring morning exponentially multiplying the life of everything it touches. Where death is broken by the power of love, tears give way to joy, and fear is chased back into the shadows of disbelief.

hqdefaultThe relentless beauty of all of this goes far beyond a theological knowing of salvation. Rather, we find it in far more visceral ways of encountering these profound truths, ways that lift right off the pages and penetrate the soul, ways that alter the way we see everything else . . . like spring. So as I step out on a clear spring day, I feel as if the promise of new life is more than a theological contractual clause – rather, it is as certain as spring following winter.

We don’t live our lives in our heads, we live them in the dimension of lived out experience. So the rich significance of the gospel narrative isn’t merely a cognitive switch we throw about an intellectual proposition – rather, it is a narrative that captivates us at the core of our being. There exists a hint of God’s redemptive work vibrating with new life hidden in the details of everything we experience – waiting for us to tune into that frequency . . . as we take a walk on a spring day.


Not sure, what it is about this old hymn – but I have always associated it with the emergence of Spring in the way it seems to call for all of creation to celebrate God.