Wise men? They look pretty dumb to me. Setting out across the desert, following a star, looking for….not sure really. I guess it’s not so weird. It’s the ancient equivalent of sat nav. You can only see a tiny fraction of the map – who knows where the woman with the strident voice and bossy tone will take you. Yet we put our faith in her, even in her diversions, trusting in her satellite omniscience. I often wonder if the wise men argued amongst themselves on the journey. ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ How can you answer that question when you don’t even know where you’re going? I wonder if any of the group turned back on the way, exhausted from the aimless wandering along in search of a mystery. Or perhaps something in them had become so enlivened they were prepared to go in pursuit of a dream whatever it took? It’s a heartening idea if you’ve made resolutions this week. The new way of living really is possible.
John O Donoghue explains it thus:-
“Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment. The eternal makes you urgent. You are loath to let compromise or the threat of danger hold you back from striving toward the summit of fulfillment.” (From Anam Cara)
Perhaps January isn’t the time for mere resolutions. It’s a time for soul awakening. We need to meditate on who we wish to be, not what we will do. The wise men must have questioned what their objective was. How will we even know when we’ve found what we’re looking for?’ they must have asked themselves. ‘We will just, er, know.’ Hmm. Wisdom indeed.
How will I know who I need to be? I suppose I will just know. John O Donoghue describes love and friendship not as an act of will or intention, but a moment of recognition. That’s so true. There’s some people like that. The moment you open the door and meet them you know straight away that you treasure them. It’s an epiphany moment. I wonder whether the message of Epiphany isn’t about having a moment of revelation and recognition of ourselves, and treasuring ourselves. The expensive gold, frankincense and myrrh turn out to be gifts for us, richer still in their symbolism.
Epiphany is a great festival to start the year, and connect with who we really are. The craziness of Christmas seems long ago, it’s back to work and normality now. The magic of Christmas continues in subtler ways in this season, and maybe is all the more powerful for that. January mornings are even darker than in December, the days lengthen in the afternoons before we start to wake up in the light. It makes it really hard to get up and get going and start the day. There’s so much optimism in the story of the Magi though. People of good faith blindly walking stumble across what they’re looking for. Yet it’s no accident, it was written in the stars. ‘Keep going’, the Wise Men seem to be urging us, the light is coming, and you’ll discover your faith in who you really are is well founded.
But how will we know when we’ve found what we are looking for? When you see it you will know. All will be revealed. Happy Epiphany x