Stopped in the tracks

They stood still, a picture of gloom.
Luke 24:17

When Jesus approached the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, they were stopped in their tracks and, as I translate the Greek, looked sullen.

I remember one time I was stopped in my tracks. In 1979 I spent three weeks working with a Irish Fellowship of Reconciliation playscheme for Catholic and Protestant kids in Lurgan, Northern Ireland.

I arrive in Northern Ireland by train and had to wait in Portadown for the train to Belfast. As I went through the exit, someone pointed out a coffee shop to me a block from the station. As I walked I saw several British soldiers with machine guns.

I stopped in my tracks – frozen.

I don’t know how long I stood there but the guy who had told me about the coffee shop passed by and pointed me in the right direction.

As I passed the solder with the machine gun, he quietly greeting me with a “Good morning.”

I think that, if that one person had not stopped and showed me the coffee shop, I would still be there even today.

The human touch. The word to a person who is stuck, stopped in mid-course. These can be redeeming moments.

Christ does not come to these disciples to castigate them, to preach to them, but to be with them and open their eyes to the depths of the reality around them.

When we stand beside someone, when we listen and let the person share fears, hopes, and joys, we are following the example of a God who listens, who shares our lives. We are letting God break bread with us.

And then we can move on – sustained with the breaking of bread – and return to the places of fears and hopes.


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