Wednesday, July 10, 2013 — Week of Proper 9, Year One[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Psalms 119:1-24 (morning) // 12, 13, 14 (evening)
1 Samuel 16:1-13
Today’s gospel reading about the Road to Emmaus shows us how the very early church experienced the presence of the risen Christ. These disciples recognized Christ in their midst in two ways: by reading the Scriptures and by breaking bread. These acts are the staple ingredients of worship in most liturgical churches. Week after week, we open up the Scriptures and share a communion meal. Yet two other simple acts from this gospel story may be less fully integrated into our spiritual lives: just plain walking and talking.
The two disciples in this story are on a seven-mile walk from Jerusalem to a village, conversing along the way. Their talk seems to include a mixture of news, questions, and sadness. The gospel says, “While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them.” Jesus seems to just fall into step with them as a gentle and accompanying presence to their dialogue.
The way that Jesus slides so easily into their evening walk and conversation reminds me of the natural way that God walked and conversed with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In the first book of the Bible, Adam and Eve hear God “walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze” (Gen 3:8). Adam and Eve are hiding, but God asks, “Where are you?” (Gen 3:9). He searches for them, trying to engage them in companionship. God seems to want to walk and talk with them at the end of the day.
Evening seems to be a sacred hour in both stories. In the Genesis story, God is taking an evening stroll, and he tries to find his people. In the Emmaus story, two disciples are taking a long walk, and in the evening they urge Jesus strongly to “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” Jesus tries to walk ahead, “as if he were going on,” but the disciples don’t want their visit with this seeming stranger to be over.
I usually write about the daily Scriptures as “morning reflections,” but today I find myself reflecting on a spirituality of the evening. Every evening is an opportunity to walk and talk with the God who asks, “Where are you?”, and with Jesus who comes alongside us. It’s a chance to come out of hiding from whatever has transpired during the day and reveal ourselves authentically. It’s a moment to invite others not to speed past us, but to stay with us.
Spiritual life doesn’t have to be all that complicated . . . especially in the evening, when we’re worn out! It can be as simple as walking and talking, with people we love or with a stranger. As simple as having a meal together and then taking an after-dinner walk by sunset. (Special thanks to my mom and dad for having our family eat dinner together and take an evening walk almost every night.) Walking and talking are simple habits that help us to be who we were created to be. The mysterious presence of the divine just may appear in the steps we take or the words we speak.
Inspired as a child by Maria Von Trapp, Luke Skywalker, and Jesus, Lora Walsh strives for wisdom, justice, and a simpler way. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas