The road between the now and the not-yet.
Today’s gospel tells the story of two dazed and distraught disciples travelling along the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Although they were probably not aware of it, these disciples were in what is called “liminal space”—a particular spiritual position where we hate to be, but where the biblical God is always leading us. The Latin root ‘limen’ literally means “threshold,” referring to that needed transition when we are moving from one place or one state of being to another. Liminal space usually induces some sort of inner crisis: you have left the tried and true (or it has left you), and you have not yet been able to replace it with anything else. It is a time of waiting, a time of transformation. “Waiting is the passionate and contemplative crucible in which new life and spiritual wholeness can be birthed.” (Sue Monk Kidd) It is in this crucible that the solid and fixed material of our lives dissolves and returns to its original state, becoming raw material for transformation. Like the disciples, we will be asked at some point to review the ideas which have accompanied us to this moment in our lives. Even our most sacred beliefs can become encrusted over time, worn out symbols of a living reality that is no longer so alive. We will be invited to bring the old ways into the crucible and heat them with the fire of our desire, vision, passion, and longing.
While we might romanticise this process, it comes with a certain devastation. It is not oriented in what we would ordinarily think of as self-development, but is a required “darkening” we must go through so that we can begin our work anew, with fresh vision. The various “crucible” moments of our lives will not be times of peace, joy, and contentment, but of revolution where we might not be sure if we will make it through to the other side. In many ways, we will not, at least the “me” we thought we were at the start of the process will be gone. If we do not engage consciously in the process of dissolution, as many have discovered, life will bring dissolution to us, by way of transition, change, and psychic upheaval of all kinds: the ending of a relationship we thought would last forever, a shift in our health, the loss of a job, an unexpected depression, the inability to find meaning. This disruption is a forerunner of wholeness but by nature the whole will always include the dark, not only transcend it.
Jesus offered the disciples a completely different lens through which to view their recent traumatic experiences, a lens which was to draw their attention to the nature of the spiritual journey—the paschal rhythm of suffering, death, and resurrection, This necessary suffering leads to new life as the authentic self that God created, that God knows so intimately and that God invites us to live free and unencumbered in his presence.
Adapted : Ruth H. Barton; Matt Licata
“Resurrection is when one moment reveals the meaning of all moments.”