Wednesday, April 3, 2013

At the Side of the Road

By Patrick J. Walsh

Today, as I trekked along my daily path in the park near my home, these days of Easter week brought to mind one of my favorite stories from the Bible: the description of the risen Christ walking with the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24; 13-35).

The park often inspires me to reflect on sacred things, as its beauty transcends the effects of the heavy use it endures due to its location in a densely populated suburban area.

In the brief struggles of its smallest living creatures, as well as the vast slow turning of sky and wind and time that shapes even the largest of its sturdy trees and stone slopes, the park does, after all, know the particulars of life and death.

As I walked today, I thought of how Cleopas and the other disciple in the biblical account were joined on their journey by the stranger who they initially failed to recognize.

Making their way forward in his company, they burst forth with vivid accounts of the events that have led up to the Crucifixion, and they ponder the details of the first reports of the Resurrection. All the while, they have no idea that they are talking to the central figure of the events they are describing.

In the midst of my reflections, I stepped to the side of the paved road as a big red SUV rumbled by, revealing in its rush a mere glimpse of the bike pinioned to its rear door. A few minutes later, it rolled back down the road in the opposite direction, leading me to again step aside.

Walking the ancient road with their unknown companion, the disciples displayed an uncanny exuberance while recounting the events at the heart of their disappointment and sorrow.

I sometimes imagine the vague outline of a smile on the Holy countenance, as Jesus listened patiently to the worries of his companions before explaining to them how his life and death fit into the pattern of religious prophecy and the promise of human history.

In the park in these days of Easter twenty one centuries later, we speed past those gifts that serve as expressions of a larger wisdom, as we pass every treasure of wizened tree or turbid pond or clouded sky, lost in the frustrations and sadness of our own modern journey.

And sometimes as I walk, I wonder at all we might be missing when we fail to recognize the nature of all that accompanies us, as we make our way along the road each day.

© Patrick J. Walsh

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