They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”–Luke 24:32 (NRSV)
As we read Luke’s account of the Road to Emmaus, Cleopas and his companion clearly didn’t recognize Jesus was walking alongside them until the moment of the breaking of the bread at their shared meal. Yet in retrospect, they recognized that something had been different about that conversation–that it was not simply an encounter but a conversion experience.
“Conversion experiences” are not something we talk much about in the Episcopal Church. Our theology tells us that the conversion experience that mattered happened roughly 2000 years ago, on the day we celebrate today. When we hear the words “conversion experience,” we tend to think of scenarios that seem a little more emotional and…well…evangelical.
Yet, our theology also tells us we are a “both/and” kind of people, than an “either/or” kind of people…our experiences of encountering the risen Christ don’t have to be in one particular vein or of one particular flavor…and, chances are, just like Cleopas and the unnamed disciple in our Luke reading today, we discover the moments that Jesus had been walking alongside us and teaching us, by means of the retrospectoscope. These are truly “conversion experiences,” as well.
Just as a good endoscopist peers forward with the endoscope and then retroflexes the scope to get a panoramic view of where the scope has been, to ensure no tiny polyp or ulceration gets missed, or that an old lesion has healed, our daily faith practices give us the best chance to look backward in our lives to see things as they truly were. Perhaps you’ve started a faith practice this Lent that you’ve decided to continue. Perhaps the return of something you gave up for Lent has provided a new retrospectoscopic view of something you didn’t fully know about yourself. No two personal retrospectoscopes work the same.
What are the moments in your life that, upon retrospectoscopic review, were the places where your heart was burning within you because of the presence of the risen Lord?
(P.S. Easter blessings to each and every one of you who follow Speaking to the Soul, from me, and all the Speaking to the Soul crew. It is truly my pleasure to write for this column in Episcopal Café on a regular basis, and my one regret is I will never know who each of you are in person. I am blessed, though, to know many of you!) Maria
Maria Evans, a surgical pathologist from Kirksville, MO, is a grateful member of Trinity Episcopal Church and a postulant to the priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. She occasionally finds time to write about the obscurities of life, medicine, faith, and the Episcopal Church on her blog, Kirkepiscatoid.
Image: “Emmausikone” by RvdWeyer – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons