Sunday, April 26, 2009

Beyon Emmaus: A Poem

Today, the Third Sunday of Easter, we read the story of Jesus' appearance to the disciples after his meeting with the two unnamed disciples on the road to Emmaus.  Like all the stories of Easter appearances, and like the Acts of the Apostles as it recounts the life of the early post-Easter Christian community, this one reminds us that Easter was and is a life-changing event not only for Jesus but for every life he touched and touches.  We see the first disciples and the early Christians struggling to make sense out of what they have witnessed, to pick up the pieces of lives whose basic assumptions had been blown to bits, to forge a future out of hints and guesses (with lots of help from the Holy Spirit) in order to be faithful to their call.  Any conversion that brings new life presents us with these same tasks.  They may be exciting, life-giving, joyful--but they are always also confusing, sometimes frightening, even paralyzing as we fight to get our bearings in a whole new world we had not expected.  This poem seeks to express Easter's effect.  

On Easter’s road we meet the Mystery,

half seen, half hidden from unwilling eyes

that know the invitation but resist

lest we be burst asunder by surprise

and find ourselves made new before we take

farewell of what we were, before it dies.

The taste of daily bread seems passing sweet,

though yesterday we found it hard and thin.

New leaven makes a wilder loaf that breaks

in fragments we can barely gather in,

for all our baskets now have grown too small

to hold the feast we hardly dare begin.


The wine is heady as it spills from cups

that careful craft cut shallow by intent

to mete out life by sips too cautious now

to hold in check the vintage that has rent

our wineskins with a stone-displacing force

erupting from a fountain never spent.


We thought we knew you when you spoke to us

the word that seized our lives and turned them round

to face a different sun than we had seen

along the roads we tramped, eyes on the ground

to measure steps with care lest pebbles trip

or unsuspected crossroads, met, confound.

What fools we were—we never knew you then,

who hardly know you now by voice or face,

but only in the breaking of the bread

catch sight of what you are and were.  The grace

spills through your wounded hands and floods the room

with fragrance from some strange, familiar place.

©2008,  Abbey of St. Walburga
Reprinted from Beside the Streams of Babylon (Virginia Dale, CO: St. Walburga Press, 2008). All rights reserved. 

1 comment:

gb said...