Emmaus in Summer

“Emmaus never happened. Emmaus always happens.”
— John Dominic Crossan, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography

I have written much about Emmaus, though I normally reserve my comments for Easter. However, as I’ve mentioned, I have been taking the online course Soelle in Summer focusing on the work of Dorothee Soelle and facilitated by the marvelous Jane Redmont. Jane posted a poem by Soelle on Emmaus, which I reproduce below. It triggered a strong response from me, as the Emmaus story usually does. Here are the comments I made on the post, slightly edited.

EmmausThe Emmaus story touches and moves me at more levels and in more ways than any other passage in the Bible. I have blogged about it many times. I’m always disappointed that it shows up in the Lectionary for Sunday morning only once in the 3-year cycle (Year A – Matthew, which is odd). Yes, I know it’s there for Easter evening every year.

So I was struck by Soelle’s taking that passage and interweaving it with images of social justice denied, and then suggesting that Cleopas and companion (probably his wife) were walking away from the “city of their hope” to where, as we might say today, the grass is (or rather, seems) greener. Yet they turn back to Jerusalem, their “city of their hope” when the meet the Christ.

Powerful.

I need to come back to this poem and spend some more time with it.

Here is the poem:

Song on the road to emmaus

So long we have been walking
away from the city of our hope
to a village where life is said to be better

   Hadn’t we thought
   we could overcome fear
   the fear of the old pieceworker
   that she’ll have to take sick leave
   the fear of the turkish girl
   that she’ll be deported
   the fear of the haunted neurotic
   that he’ll be committed
   forever

So long we have been walking
in the same wrong direction
away from the city of our hope
to the village where there’s supposed to be water

   Hadn’t we thought
   we were free and could liberate
   all those poor devils
   the working man’s child held back and punished
   in school
   the adolescent on his motorbike
   sent to the wrong work
   for life
   the deaf and dumb
   in the wrong country
   at the wrong time
   silenced by working
   a lifetime
   for bread alone

So long we have been walking
in the same direction
away from the city
where our hope is still buried

   Then we met someone
   who shared his bread with us
   who showed us the new water
   here in the city of our hope
   I am the water
   you are the water
   he is the water
   she is the water

Then we turned around and went
back to the city of our buried hope
up to jerusalem

   He who brought water is with us
   he who brought bread is with us
   we shall find the water
   we shall be the water

   I am the water of life
   you are the water of life
   we are the water of life
   we shall find the water
   we shall be the water

Dorothee Soelle
Revolutionary Patience (Orbis, 1977)
pp. 46-48


2 Comments on “Emmaus in Summer”

  1. […] One last quote from my Dorothee Soelle course: […]

  2. […] 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. And here’s a reflection on Emmaus from the perspective of Dorothee […]


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