WHEN I feel I'm running out of hope, inspiration, or joy, I often turn to the Bible's account of two men who were walking the seven and a half miles from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus a few days after Christ Jesus' crucifixion.1 The two failed to recognize Jesus when he joined them and asked why they were so sad. In answering, they recounted the tale of Jesus' own crucifixion, and how they had seen even his tomb empty.
Christ Jesus spent no time consoling these men for a ``loss'' that hadn't really occurred. Instead, he asked pointedly, ``Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?'' Then, the Bible tells us, he went all the way back to Moses to tell them from the Scriptures ``the things concerning himself.'' That evening, as they sat together to eat, they finally recognized Jesus. After he had left them they said to each other, ``Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?''
When I am feeling despondent about something, this story helps me recognize and welcome the Christ-spirit that caused the disciples' hearts to burn on the way to Emmaus. Since God, Spirit, is universal and timeless, it's only natural that He speaks through Christ to everyone, in any age. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``In the walk to Emmaus, Jesus was known to his friends by the words, which made their hearts burn within them, and by the breaking of bread. The divine Spirit, which identified Jesus thus centuries ago, has spoken through the inspired Word and will speak through it in every age and clime. It is revealed to the receptive heart, and is again seen casting out evil and healing the sick.''2
If we were just feeble, mortal beings in a material world, then there might well be little reason for hope or joy. But there is far more to the reality of man as created by God, divine Spirit. And through the wonderful healing works that he did, Christ Jesus showed what it means to know that our life is in God. Life in God is really the basis for joy and the anchor for our hopes. And if I forget this, the Emmaus story reminds me to redirect my hopes and seek a higher joy.
Having our hope and joy anchored in spirituality -- in the things of Spirit, God -- keeps us safe from the ups and downs this world can hand out on a daily basis. I've often found that experiencing spiritual joy starts with the right choices in the small moments every day. I'm reminded of this every time I do something for someone else's happiness -- as when my children coax me into doing something with them rather than whatever was next on my own agenda. If I make the effort willingly, I'm the one who gets the real lift.
Small victories like these help unlock the larger issues in our lives as we let go of a self-centered perception of life (which is always full of limitations and dead ends) and strive for a life more centered on God, Spirit. As Mrs. Eddy says: ``Glory be to God, and peace to the struggling hearts! Christ hath rolled away the stone from the door of human hope and faith, and through the revelation and demonstration of life in God, hath elevated them to possible at-one-ment with the spiritual idea of man and his divine Principle, Love.''3
Though it isn't always easy to get up from the doldrums and out the door, Christ is always present to show us the way.
1See Luke 24:13-35. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 46. 3Ibid., p. 45.