It’s been almost one year since my husband and I decided to make Emmaus our home. Emmaus is quite different from anywhere else I have ever lived. In fact, I have never lived in a town with neighbors, with traffic, and with a train. With that as background, then, these observations are made without the benefit of comparing Emmaus to any other town, but yet with completely untainted discernment.
My one-year experience of living in Emmaus has taught me that a person gets to know a community by the way it “speaks” to you and the way you respond. Just as an interesting book cover entices a reader to open to the pages, there was a sense of invitation my husband and I felt about Emmaus, urging us to explore and learn about the place we now call home. We heeded the call and became acquainted with the tangible elements of the community largely through walks down main roads and side streets. We’ve seen interesting things: old homes proudly restored; backyard gardens lovingly cultivated; historical vestiges marvelously preserved; and attractive stores in a lively business district. Through my business, many life-long Emmaus residents have fondly shared with me a reflection about the building we live in, where the post office used to be located, and what high school class they graduated with. These exchanges have helped the town come alive for me and affirmed what I already knew: that Emmaus is a town steeped in nostalgia. But in the year that has passed, we’ve learned that Emmaus is more than the sum of memories and material.
There are elements in Emmaus that are not as visible yet are the bones of the town. Within the community there is a network of committees, partnerships, societies, and clubs that all contribute immensely to preserving the traditions of the town. It is their work -- the preservation of records, maps and documents; the beautification projects throughout town; and the cultivation of the arts – that
imbues Emmaus’ character today and brings its heritage to the fore. Emmaus’ history is the cornerstone upon which the town we know today was built and which gives it its sense of place. It is clear that Emmaus embraces its past, and it is that aspect of its character that new residents most appreciate.
Emmaus is not immune to the influences beyond its borders. Like all towns, it is in the midst of a continuous birthing process that will assimilate the old with the new. Affecting these transformations and outcomes are politics, economics, and technology. It is also the decisions that people make about their lives and community that will influence the strength and character of Emmaus’ culture. The commitment of our elected officials and public service departments indicates that they understand the town’s character in terms of preserving its historical significance, addressing its infrastructure, and planning for the future. Fiscal responsibility does not lie in cutting funding to entities that are essential to meet Emmaus’ growing needs; rather, reasonable budgeting and spending on projects that insure and secure its future. If it were any other way, I don't believe I would be writing these reflections. Just as important, it must be the determination and responsibility of individual citizens to feed the archives of history if they want to preserve the traditions they love. These are the building blocks on which the Emmaus story has been constructed and the stepping stones for its future.