“…and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread” (Emmaus 3)

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Caravaggio, “The Supper at Emmaus”, c.1606

How like him to appear this way:
a walk alongside the mourners,
an attentive ear, a willingness to linger,
and then – the climax –
seated at table,
bread, the beloved symbol, poised in hand,
and at its breaking
all finally clear.

How like him
who broke bread with Zaccheus,
with Levi, with Judas.
How very like the bread Himself
to be broken, then to be known.

Chiaroscuro

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Caravaggio, “The Supper at Emmaus”, c.1606

To Cleopas and his friend,
the revelation and its impact no doubt stuck.
Their paradigm, irremediably shifted, could hardly go back.
Such things as resurrections we don’t
forget in any hurry.

Yet for those serving at table, I wonder:
did the light dawn so quickly, so decisively?
More or less a normal night’s work,
and that constant attempt not to eavesdrop
or at least not be seen doing so.

And then, some vague but growing sense
that here was a light altogether different in quality,
such that everything else was jet in the background,
that here was a customer who transformed the meals he ate
and left behind more than he took.

Perhaps, on the table,
after he left, as though spirited away,
in place of the customary tip a piece
of bread leftover, and a cup of wine,
and with the skeleton of the fish course lingering on the plate,
a parchment asking silently,
“Shall these dry bones live?”

Lent: Emmaus 3

Too fast you walk down the mountainside;
momentum gathers, yet of a false and fleeting kind.
A fig tree full of leaves, but fruit sorely lacking,
you see the glory but faint at the sight of blood.

Slow down. It is a long road and your companion lingers;
His death puts brakes on our downward slide.
Listen: past, present, future all gathered in Him,
the words of life may echo

if you heed the words of death.

Lent: Emmaus 2

The heavens are telling the glory of God –
    (tweet tweet, like like, instant message)
His voice goes out to the ends of the earth –
    (I fast, I tithe, I pray twice a day)
Heaven and earth will pass away –
    (Lord, let me sit at your right hand)
Before His law will fade.

In wilderness, make straight the way –
     (I thank you, Lord, I’m not like him)
The Son of Man must suffer and die –
    (O surely Lord not I?)
Heaven and earth will pass away –
     (Anti-ageing cream for sale)
His promises remain.

Lent: Emmaus 1

” And he said to them, ‘O foolish ones and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?'”
(Luke 24:25-26)

Slow to understand, the day turns to night.
Light dwindles, the length of days shortens;
have we time to hear His words?

Walk. The road is long, but your companion
stays as sun retreats and understanding hides.
Slow to understand, we turn:

we slow our hearts to hear.

J. S. Bach – Cantata “Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden”