Somewhere around the age of 41, I got confused. I began to question aspects of my faith tradition. I became curious about my life choices and where I sit in the advent of middle age. I wondered if what I do in the dailiness, in the hiddenness of homemaking and mothering, matters. This is a normal, developmental passage for us as we move beyond the younger self, enter a chrysalis of sorts, and emerge for the last half of our lives with greater clarity, authenticity, and wholeness.
These middle spaces, the times when we are in transition from one life stage to the next, can feel confounding, upending, vulnerable. It is how the followers of Jesus felt between the crucifixion and the resurrection. Unsure. Wondering about their faith. Grieving. Wanting hope but from where? Are the rumors of new Life real?
Two were walking on the road to Emmaus. They were processing all that happened surrounding Jesus’ death, hoping that He had been the answer for redemption, and trying to figure out fact from fiction. They found themselves in the middle of a story where the old ways were done and the new ways hadn’t been revealed yet. They were in the middle of personal crisis.
The Scripture tells us that Jesus drew near to them and went with them. At this point, these two people didn’t even recognize Him. Jesus asked them questions with curiosity. He listened well and patiently. He spoke kind truth to them from the Scripture. And that evening when Jesus accepted their invitation to stay with them, He fed them. And that is when they knew who He was. He was “known to them in the breaking of the bread.”
Just like those ancient followers, we don’t always notice Jesus’ presence in these challenging middle years. We wonder if He has abandoned us, our marriages, our children, our needs, His promises. We are unable to see the Resurrection power and the life that is in Him in our dailiness. We are walking our dusty roads of shame, of shattered hopes, and wondering if there is Hope along these paths. We walk the road of Emmaus like so many other believers have.
But even if you do not recognize Him, Jesus is drawing near to you. He may be showing up in His creation, in a song, in the wisdom from a friend. He doesn’t always show up in obvious ways, but we can know that He is with us. Invite His nearness. Rest in it even if you can’t see it or feel it today. He wants to feed you, to nourish your soul as the Bread of Life, broken and given for you just as He did for His disciples.
In the hardest moments of the past few years, as I have walked my own dusty roads, wondering if Jesus is near, if my faith is true or if my pilgrimage is in the right direction, I take the tangible step to show up at church. Every Sunday the weary, the broken, the needy walk down the aisle to cup their hands to receive the bread, dip it in the wine, and return to their seat having been fed by Grace. This is the beauty of a liturgical church, the pinnacle of our worship is the humility to receive Him by grace.
Communion is a precious visual reminder to me that He is with me, feeding me, and nourishing my soul. A walk in nature is another way that I look around and can see that God is surrounding me with His beauty, His peace, His healing. Sometimes I find Jesus on my yoga mat when the leader is reading Scripture, speaking truth, and rubbing my neck with oil. I find Him at Panera over a cup of hot tea as I talk with other women about their journeys and looking for the ways that God is showing Himself there.
Jesus hasn’t abandoned us. Even if we can’t recognize Him. He is drawing near, listening, offering His presence, and feeding us. Your dusty roads are filled with the presence of Christ. And this is comforting truth for the middle years.