Somehow this year, I’ve been thinking a lot about the “Wise Men” or “Magi” and their own short story. I’m not sure why – because it’s about a journey and movement and I’m not going anywhere right now.
Much of my life has been about movement, change, forward motion. Now I’ve lived in Baltimore almost 9 years (!) and sometimes I don’t feel like I’m moving very much. But I guess even staying can be a type of journey.
So maybe that’s why I’ve been thinking about this and the Wise Men’s journeys. I like that there’s this ‘something’ that compels them – together – who knows how many there were – following a star to something that perhaps they weren’t even fully sure of. But they knew it was something special – something good.
So – keeping it simple this year – because honestly – for me it’s too easy to fall into last year’s hopelessness. Outwardly, I’m a happy person. I love life and people and going out. But in my writing and self-reflection, I tend to tip into despair and pessimism and questions. At heart, I’m a cynic – though I strive to be an idealist.
On reflecting on this over this last month, two things (as I see it) coincide with this Maji-Christmas story that keep me going – that (I think) kept them going.
In all journeys, we face deserts and darkness and setbacks. But it’s our companions that help us overcome them. Sure, I’m grateful for the journey and that which makes me stronger (blah blah blah :), but without those that travel with me, I’m not sure I’d keep moving at times. You know who you are.
And I’d love to stop here with that sweet and touching line, but let’s be honest once again. Who among us hasn’t felt completely alone on that road? There have been times that I’ve said “there’s no one there”. (And I know that I’ve also been one to miss a lonely person sitting there beside me.) But an important lesson I’ve had to learn as an adult (and re-learn again and again) that at this age – in our busy lives – it’s okay to say “I need a day”, “I need help”, “I’m struggling” – Because I think we believe no one else is and we have to look and strive the exact same way.
Then there’s that something – that drew the Maji on the journey, what kept them going – that great Hope, following that star – even if at times, it was only the belief that there was still a star hidden behind the clouds.
I love the part of the ‘wise men’ studying the stars (astrology anyone?) and suddenly realizing that God was born as child. And they follow this star to a place – All this without a voice, without a visitation, without a dream. All because of a star and a belief.
So much trust. And so much certainty to travel that far.
It makes me ask: Are there times like that in my life that needed so much trust and certainty to propel me forward? Big decisions. Or moves really. My move to Baltimore. My continual stay here. Certainly my faith.
This story of the Maji reflects my own story and reminds me to look Beside me and look Up. It’s a story of a journey together with fellow travelers – propelled with a greater purpose and a belief in something beyond ourselves. Maybe even (maybe often) following something that sometimes we’re not always sure what it is, but certain the end will prove the journey.
For me, that’s hope. Not super deep but sometimes, that’s what keeps me from falling off the ledge :).
And just to end – here are a few of my pieces of hope this year: a place I now call ‘home’, seeing my little nephew after a long summer, old friends that re-surface in my life, new friends that I didn’t think I had anything in common with, sisters who I know will drop anything if I called them, a church that cares about the plight of refugees, immigrants and its own community, colleagues and a job that are more than that, a Thanksgiving that refreshed my soul, fellow travelers that always do, a family that draws me home each Christmas and the reason I celebrate every December.
And you. Taking the time to read this.