When everything is changing – Signs of recognition

— Midweek Meditations:
thoughts, inspiration and encouragement
from ACF community members —

Are you a conservative – like me? ‘Conservare’, in Latin means to preserve, save, maintain, leave intact. Some of my ‘conservative’ friends would say: we want to preserve and protect ‘the good’. Now they and I have very different ideas about what that means politically. But we have one thing in common: Yes, I want to hold on to the good in my life, to preserve and keep it. In that sense, I am conservative.

The bad news for all of us in the preservationist camp is that nothing stays the same. We notice this on a small scale, e.g. after a nice evening, when the guests have left and it becomes quiet again in the apartment. It becomes even more obvious with the big life events including moving to a different country, getting married or divorced, being ill or injured, changing a job, making friends and/ or losing some, experiencing an aging body. Life is a process – for better or worse.

Nothing stays the same. I take comfort in the fact that the Bible tells this in countless ways. The people of Israel wander in the desert for 40 years, then no more. The childless Abraham and Sarah, against all odds, still get a son. Job, who actually has everything, has to experience how he loses everything. Jonah, who at first does not want to fulfill his task, finally comes to his senses. Perhaps you can think of a few more of these many stories in the Bible that testify to the vicissitudes of life.

Particularly close to my heart is the story of the disciples at Emmaus. After Jesus is crucified and dies, the inexplicability increases even more. On the third day after Jesus’ death, the women excitedly return to the disciples and report that Jesus’ body is no longer there. The Emmaus disciples do not interpret this as a sign of the resurrection – the Jesus as they know him is not to be seen far and wide. The same day, they set out for their hometown. We do not know exactly what they felt, spoke and thought on this route. I can’t imagine it other than that they were stunned, disappointed, exhausted, still in shock and in great mourning. Then, unexpectedly, a third person joins them. Their companion walks with them the distance they have to go. To him they open up and tell of what is incomprehensible to them. His presence seems to be a comfort to them. Arriving in Emmaus in the evening, they invite him to stay. And then, at last, they do recognize him. When the friendly stranger breaks bread at dinner, the disciples suddenly understand: it is Jesus with whom we sit here. Jesus, risen from the dead, has walked the path with us. We didn’t understand it for a while, but then he made us recognize him.

Again, everything changed for the disciples. And at the same time they recognized him by something very familiar. As before, he broke bread with them. What an unexpected and yet so clear sign of recognition.

Some time ago a dear friend gave me a card with the saying “It doesn’t matter where you are going it’s who you have by your side”. This sentence helps me especially in times of great changes. There is a (sometimes seemly absent) Jesus who walks the path with me, with whom I can share what moves me and who also makes himself known. Even if it looks completely different than I expect and still somehow deeply familiar.

Maybe you also recognize yourself in the Emmaus disciples? Maybe you want to let these questions accompany you in the next days:

What is the path I am walking on right now?
What is it that I can hardly grasp right now?
What are my questions on this path?
Which (unexpected) companions are walking with me?
Will there be signs of recognition?

A prayer to keep you company while walking

Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
Be still.

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