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  • Rev. Dr. Steven Yagerman

"Were not our hearts burning within us?"

“Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” To meet someone who opens our minds to the meaning of life is a profound and moving experience.  On the road to Emmaus, two of the disciples were leaving Jerusalem dejected. They had seen their dreams shattered and were no doubt wondering how they could make sense of the past few years now that their leader had been crucified. Perhaps they were plotting strategies of returning to their hometowns as broken, disillusioned men who had been taken in by a misguided messianic pretender.  We made a mistake! We were duped. We believed, but now we are sorry. How humiliating! At the nadir of this story nothing good seemed possible, shunning and shaming seemed imminent.Until… Until a stranger began to engage them in dialogue. Until this stranger asked about their lives and listened to their story. Until this stranger started putting the pieces of the story into a different, broader narrative. Until they offered this stranger hospitality. It’s late, stay with us, have a bite to eat with us. Gradually, meaning began to return to them. Verily, something more than logical meaning.  When they welcomed the stranger, when they shared their story, they became open to another story, a story of resurrection. A story that re-oriented their lives, but more than a story, they felt their hearts burn inside. They felt themselves come back to life. Many of us are walking in despair in this particular moment. Many of us are feeling the hopelessness of an extended isolation. Many of us fear that what has befallen our neighbors is likely to take our hope and our lives away.  In the midst of our despair, we might take some inspiration, that in welcoming the stranger our narrative can shift. This vital shift warms and reanimates the core of our being. This shift comes from understanding the deeper connections and meaning of our lives, a shift of mind. Along with the mind there is a strange warming of our hearts, a shift in being. In the hospitable encounter with the stranger we encounter the presence of resurrection; not only Jesus’ particular resurrection, but an interior resurrection that is in fact, life itself re-emerging inside us and between us.

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