Dead Ends / Detours

We’ve all been on broken roads. Many of you have shared that you are walking on one as you go through this retreat.

The powerful message of the Emmaus story–and in fact, the point of the entire Easter story itself–is that broken roads need not be dead ends; they can become detours. Our hearts may be broken, and our hopes may be shattered, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. There can be a morning after.

All we need to do is to open our eyes and seek out the Lord in the strangers we meet on the road.

So if for whatever reason, in whatever aspect of your life, you find yourself traveling the broken road, remember the stranger in Emmaus, and watch out for moments when your heart burns. For that is a sign of the Risen Lord approaching.

Lately I’ve been watching political rallies online regularly, and it seems quite bizarre how I tear up so easily. The only way I can make sense of it is that I’ve been feeling downcast about the “dead-end” situation in the country, and these massive rallies–where joy and goodness seem to abound–bring me much-needed hope. They are, for me, unexpected Easter appearances, and they leave my heart burning.

It concretizes for me the “soul-stretching” Easter invitation extended to us.

That each time we think we’ve run out of roads, we need to keep believing that a new path will be shown us.

Or that, as Winston Churchill once put it, “if you’re going through hell, just keep walking.”

Easter stretches our vision to see beyond what lies only immediately before us. When there is darkness around us, we should keep our flames burning, even when it’s but a flicker; when there is absolutely no apparent reason to hope, we need to do our best to hope against hope; and when there seems to be no path forward, we look for a path–or if necessary, build one.

Again, we have that saying: “Let us cross the bridge when we get there.”

For Easter, the Risen Lord revises it for us. If there is no bridge in sight, build one!

When you think about it, this is not such a strange and unfamiliar invitation to us. We’re going through a lot: a global pandemic, the violence in Ukraine and elsewhere threatening the world, the increasingly urgent climate crisis looming over us, the prevalence of misinformation and historical distortions, the rise and return of dictators…

On top of that, many of us are also facing personal dead ends in our lives.

But if you’re here and doing this retreat, you are–against every odd and by God’s sheer grace–a survivor. Like the rest of us, you’re probably scarred from the wreckage you’ve been through or going through–be it global, national, or personal. But don’t underestimate the inner resources you’ve accummulated as a survivor.

So regardless of the noise you hear around you and inside of you, keep the faith and believe that you can build a bridge and find your way out of here. That, after all, is what our Easter faith is all about.