29 March, 2009

The reason behind the name of ‘Finding Emmaus’

I have been asked on many occasions why my book, a story about ghosts and Empaths and an industry with a powerful political lobby gone mad, is entitled “Finding Emmaus.” I’ll try to explain. I realize this entry is a bit long-winded, and I apologize for that, but hopefully, by the time you reach the end, you will also find it inspiring…

‘Emmaus’ is a biblical reference, part of the Gospel of Luke. No, my book is not about religion, though religion certainly does come into play, as half the story takes place in 17th century Puritan America.

Francis Nettleton, one of the two principal characters, was ostracized and victimized because he was different. He was an Empath, though he did not know it for quite some time.

In his day, Empathy looked to those around him like lunacy or demonic possession or witchcraft - all of which were believed to be hazardous to the community at large and were generally ‘treated’ by torture and/or death. Francis managed to avoid the executioner’s noose because he was born into the wealthiest family in town.

So he survived, but he did not escape persecution - nor he could escape the bewildering, frightening, sometimes paralyzing manifestations of Empathy. But at 32 years old, he embarks on a pilgrimage which will not only change his life, it may very well change the world.

Katherine, also an Empath and the other principal character in the book, was born in the 1950’s, had no clue as to her true nature and therefore then spent a good part of her life believing herself to be mentally ill - and enduring all that one would expect would be reasonably associated with that: doctors and hospitals and endless, useless therapy sessions and toxic drugs.

Finally, at 54, she is given a rare opportunity: a second chance at life. She is told she is extraordinary, not crazy, that she’s an Empath and not mentally ill. And she is sent off on a trip to find Francis and, through him, the truth about herself.

And that’s where the 24th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Luke comes in: The Road To Emmaus.

The story of Emmaus begins on the third day after Jesus was entombed. Jesus appeared before two men, followers of his, although he did not allow them to see who he really was. To them he was just another traveler. They were on their way out of Jerusalem, going back home, they told him, to the village of Emmaus. Scholars have debated furiously over the village’s exact location but no-one’s ever found any irrefutable evidence of the village’s location or even of its existence. Nothing, not one artifact, not one grain of sand, not in 2000 years.

And that, in my humble opinion, is because the scholars have missed the boat completely. They will never find Emmaus because it never existed in the first place.

Think back to another bible story, one which is probably more familiar: the parable of the ‘sower of seeds’ in the thirteenth chapter of Matthew. Some of the man’s seeds end up on the road, some amongst the rocks, still others amongst the weeds, and the only ones that grow are those that land on fertile soil. Is it a story about some knucklehead farmer who had nothing better to do than waste his time, energy and produce tossing seeds about into places where he already knew they’d never grow? Of course not. It’s a story about what goes on inside the hearts and minds of human beings.

And so it is with the story of Emmaus. The two men who were on their way out of Jerusalem had adored Jesus, had hung on His every word and so were devastated when He was killed, particularly in such a horrific manner, and even more so because the good citizens of Jerusalem had turned it into a circus.

They had expected Jesus to come back; they had expected Him to be their savior and after three days of waiting, when they thought maybe He wasn’t coming back, they simply couldn’t endure one more moment of the grief and anguish. So they were headed out of Dodge.

After having watched the world go mad, they needed to be someplace where they could be reassured that love and peace and sanity still exist, that there was still some place on earth they could count on to be a refuge from the atrocities of men.

So where do you go? When everything else in the world becomes absolutely unendurable, where do you go? Back home, of course. Back to family and friends, back to the one place you always know you’ll find comfort and consolation and recuperation.

Francis and Katherine both have journeys to take. They must come to terms with what they are and why they have been granted this precious gift, how to live with it, how they can master it, how they can put to some good use and eventually - hopefully - make some sense of their shattered lives.

That’s what Emmaus is all about - and it’s where the scholars went wrong: Emmaus was never about geography - it’s about shelter from the storm.


  1. Hi Pamela! Thanks for the invite. Wow what an interesting bio...thanks for dropping by to my humble "mundane and trivial woes of human existence" blog LOL. I know a certain aspiring fantasy author friend of mine will certainly be very interested in your novel I will let her know to drop by. Cheers :)

  2. Hi Pamela,
    Thanks for following me! It seems that we are on parallel paths to re-invention! I love your blog and am anxiously awaiting the arrival of your intriguing book. It sounds like a labor of love. I would enjoy dialoging with you about transitioning career/mindset--it's good to find a kindred spirit!

  3. Thanks for checking out my rambling blog. Your story sounds fascinating! I love the empath idea and can't wait to read more. I am fleshing out an idea for a story myself, and will post more when I get a little more depth to it. Thanks for inviting me to your blog!

  4. Terry,
    You are more than welcome and I'm delighted you came to visit. Let’s hear it for re-invention - nothin’ like it! The target launch for my book is October - though I’m having a conference call with my publisher on Monday and I’ll know for sure after that.

    Regarding transitioning career/mindset - yes, that’s obviously a subject near and dear to my heart. Scary and exciting and the very best thing I've ever, ever done for myself. Would love to compare notes with you.


  5. Shannanigans, thanks for the compliment - yes, I fell in love with the whole subject of Empathy nearly two years ago and it’s been wonderful researching it for my book. I’d love to hear what you’re thinking of for your book - can’t wait ‘til you post it. I hope you’ll come back often - I will certainly be visiting you!

  6. Very interesting explanation. Symbolism at its best.