Before I left for this journey, I was talking with a dear priest friend about the gospel. I have always struggled to find illustrations for the road to Emmaus story. We live in a time where we do not walk on our journeys and we do not necessarily converse with folks while we are traveling. We are guarded and avoid strangers. When do we have that kind of public space where we can urge a stranger to stay and eat with us?
Yesterday I rode the train from Newark to Washington. I took a seat on a rather crowded train, facing one man over a table and sitting next to a older woman. There was quiet among us at first. As the man got up to get something from the cafe car, he asked us if we too would like something. While he was gone my companion and I talked and then when he arrived we had a lively conversation throughout our time. Such rich lives they have and so many wonderful ideas and stories to share. I felt transformed and buoyed up throughout my travels yesterday because of them. And I realized I had an answer to my question. I also realized I am being challenged not to turn away from others to my own thoughts and preparation. I am being invited to risk control and quiet for growing and blessing.
We are all travelers on the road. We are all going somewhere whether we acknowledge it or not. God invites us to engage others and to engage the world we travel through. We have a choice to draw others close or distance ourselves. I had that choice yesterday - but by taking a risk, my whole day was transformed, and I will never be the same because of what I learned from those folks. I was blessed by them. May we today have the courage to go on the road with others, seeking the face of God in the strangers and expecting that God will transform us as we go.