Sabbath Reflection – 3rd Sunday of Easter – Luke 24:13-35 - 26th April, 2020
Every one of us know what it is to experience disappointments and heartbreak. Some are minor everyday things; others can seem as if they are life shattering and others can be truly life shattering for a time. Many of our disappointments, but I stress not all, are due to our expectations in some way. In this time of COVID-19 there have been many dreams, and expectations that have been lost in various ways almost overnight. But what lies beyond these disappointments and shattering’s? How many times have we experienced a shattering of some sort in our lives, only to look back, and learn that had it not happened, then a new Life giving door would not have opened for us. So often life turns out to be like this. In this Emmaus story we hear how two disciples are shattered because the one they pinned all their hopes on has been crucified like a common criminal. It created more a sense of great shame than it did rejoicing. This shattered all their hopes and expectations. So much for the hopes of salvation and the ‘king’ that was going to make everything right (in their own eyes). The majority of followers of Jesus had a specific expectation of what and who this ‘king’ would be like – and his death, and the way he died destroyed these expectations. They hid not only in fear, but they also hid in shame and extraordinary disappointment and confusion. All was seemingly lost because none of it met their expectations. It is the space between their disappointments and their future choices that becomes most important. These two disciples, perhaps representing all of us at various times in our life, walk away consumed with great grief and disappointment. But they keep remembering, they keep discussing and they keep listening to their experiences with this One who was expected to ‘save’ them. They don’t realise that within their pondering, the One they are so disappointed about is walking with them – is within them. It is within their REFLECTING, REMEMBERING AND LISTENING that they discover something deeper – they discover the Mystery WITHIN them that is journeying with them. Too often within our own disappointments, we do not take the time to do this ‘reflecting’. We might spend a lot of time blaming, cursing, regretting, but do we really take the time to LISTEN TO OUR OWN HEARTS as we journey though the suffering, loss and disappointments? Do we go beyond our ego selves and truly LISTEN? The invitation is to always move into our suffering but also open up to move beyond it. Too often the surface wound rigidly remains our focus and we then refuse to move deeply within it or beyond it. We look for scapegoats. This wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t done this or that. For example: it’s all China’s fault we are in this lock-down…... It’s always someone else, somewhere else, but it isn’t us – we just keep projecting blame upon blame. What is the point of anything if we keep looking outside of ourselves and refuse to come within and look for answers there too? We so often refuse to look at the present moment. Ok, the virus originated in China, and China acted with high levels of secrecy (what’s new) and we keep insisting on ‘it’s your fault’. What good does this do us? Wouldn’t it be more fruitful to, acknowledge, yes, it originated in China and questions must be asked…….. but what is our Reality NOW. What is this time of isolation offering us NOW? Instead of cursing and cussing, why are we so resistant to look at our current situation and ask: How can we best live with what IS NOW? What is this sacred time offering me/us? This is what the Emmaus couple did, and it eventually transformed their lives, their disappointments and their expectations, because they began to see that a New Life was being offered to them within their current situation. They chose to return to the Source of Life and not remain fixated on their expectations. So often we continue to choose paths that sap the Life Energy out of us. When we make time for this ‘LISTENING’, I mean serious time and serious listening, then I don’t believe we can remain there too long by ourselves – we become consciously aware of being accompanied by this Spirit of Love that always offers us an alternative beyond OUR expectations. For myself, I know my morning walks on the beach are a Listening time. In a very real way they are prayer, and so often I am given unexpected insights when I give this daily time to listening/reflecting. Many of these ‘reflections’ are birthed within these quiet walks and I am always surprised by what emerges and what is given. I leave you with this beautiful prayer attributed to Sir Francis Drake called ‘To Dream Again’. It fits into our Gospel and the current Life situation we all face in various ways within COVID-19.
Disturb us, O God! When our dreams have come true,
because we dreamed too little. Disturb us God, when we have arrived in safety
because we sailed too close to the shore. Disturb us God, when with the abundance of things we possess,
we have lost our thirst for the beyond. Disturb us God, when having fallen in love with time,
we have ceased to dream eternity. Stir us God, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas,
in the name of the One who pushed back the horizons of our hopes.
© Annemarie Reiner