Summary: A Narrative in five movements: Heavy Hearts, Broken Hearts, Passionate Heart, Burning Hearts, Peaceful Hearts
I. Heavy Heart – The Long Walk Home
There’s a grief that can’t be spoken. There are wounds that will not heal. My eyes are blind; my heart, a stone.
Somehow the sun has nerve to rise again. Somehow the clouds break to reveal a blue sky. Somehow the birds still sing. Somehow it is still spring and everything around me is bursting into life – but I feel dead inside. It is a slight to my heart that anything should live, now that he does not.
It has been three days now. Three numb, empty, grey days of nothingness. Two sleepless nights, and three grating days. It is as if nature has mourned for three days, and yet today she awakes refreshed… but I am still numb.
As I walk the streets it surprises me that my stubborn heart insists on beating – nothing would surprise me less than if I were to simply stop breathing and die here… hope is gone.
As I wander in my stupor towards the city gates I passed by the temple. Only a few days ago he was here, the height of righteous indignation, driving the money-changers from the temple, insisting that it remain a house of prayer.
Just down that little side street is the second storey room where he and his disciples sat down to a final Passover meal. He seemed so anxious to be here for Passover if only he could have known what awaited him here…
Just through that gate is the little garden of Gethsemane. That’s where they seized him. Taken from his prayer… It seems like a dream… a horrific unending nightmare.
Here is the road they led him down, the rain from the last few days has scoured the blood from the stones, but I was here and watched as he dragged himself and that cross through the city gates, on the way up to Mt. Calvary. I had no voice – I was struck dumb by the horror.
O God… I begin, but I cannot pray – is there any God in the land of despair?
Near the gate where he entered is a pile of dried palm branches – piled out of the way of traffic. The fronds so green a week ago are hard and brown now, a meaningless symbol of messianic futility. Someone has obviously come this morning to this place already. On a nail in the gate hangs a little green crown, woven from a palm branch.
For the moment I just stand and stare, overcome with grief, broken with sorrow. My cloak is still dusty from having laid it out on the road for his donkey to ride on.
II. Broken Hearts – Two Travelers
I don’t recall how long I stood by the gate weeping. Time had lost meaning for me. Somehow my emotions seemed twisted around inside of me. Had ever such a tragedy befallen the world? Had ever such hopes been so swiftly crushed?
It was there by the gate that Cleopas found me. He had no tears, but the dark circles around his eyes revealed that he had had no more sleep than I these past few nights.
He mumbled a greeting and half heartedly I responded. “I’m going to Emmaus, back to my home, why not walk with me, we can be there before dark if we leave now.”
He gave made no sound, simply nodded, and together we went out. With broken hearts we began the long walk home.
We spoke sporadically, whenever the loneliness of thought became to great to bear. We spoke of the life we had known, of the time that had passed since we met him, of the hopes we had and the loss we felt.
Cleopas had known him longer than me; I had met him a little while later, yet we both shared the same dream that this man was truly more than a prophet, or teacher, or worker of miracles. Our dream now lay dashed in the remnants of our broken hearts – for the one we had hoped was messiah was gone.
But it had been grand: to see the things this man could do. To raise the sick with just a word, to restore the leper with a touch, to give life meaning with only a look.
Cleopas and I had been there in Bethsaida on the day that he fed the multitudes. We were close enough to see his eyes sparkle, eyes that seemed to see every person as they were. We watched as his rough carpenters hands took the little loaves and broke them, blessing them and giving thanks for every soul that heard him.
As we walked on Cleopas mumbled something about a confusion in the morning. Some of the women had tried to find the tomb but had come upon an empty one instead. They were convinced they had seen an angel announcing that he had risen. But when some of the others went to the place they found only an empty tomb, no angels, and no body. Everyone seems to be in a daze – I guess these women have their way of dealing with grief – I wish I had some way also.