Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

("The Three Wise Men Going to Bethlehem," by Franz Xaver Merz, fresco on the ceiling of Windberg Abbey Church, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

For Those Who Have Far to Travel
An Epiphany Blessing
By Jan Richardson

If you could see
the journey whole
you might never
undertake it;
might never dare
the first step
that propels you
from the place
you have known
toward the place
you know not.

Call it
one of the mercies
of the road:
that we see it
only by stages
as it opens
before us,
as it comes into
our keeping
step by
single step.

There is nothing
for it
but to go
and by our going
take the vows
the pilgrim takes:

to be faithful to
the next step;
to rely on more
than the map;
to heed the signposts
of intuition and dream;
to follow the star
that only you
will recognize;

to keep an open eye
for the wonders that
attend the path;
to press on
beyond distractions
beyond fatigue
beyond what would
tempt you
from the way.

There are vows
that only you
will know;
the secret promises
for your particular path
and the new ones
you will need to make
when the road
is revealed
by turns
you could not
have foreseen.

Keep them, break them,
make them again:
each promise becomes
part of the path;
each choice creates
the road
that will take you
to the place
where at last
you will kneel

to offer the gift
most needed—
the gift that only you
can give—
before turning to go
home by
another way.

We've known about the Magi since childhood, if only from singing "We Three Kings."  (Or, the version I used to entertain myself with as a kid:  "We three kings of Orient are, tryin' to smoke a rubber cigar.  It was loaded and it exploded, that's how we got this far!")  But do we ever think much about the Magi except for part of the supporting cast of the Christmas story--and what, really, do they have to do with us?

When I sit and ponder the Magi, I often think of how their journey parallels our own journeys "looking for Jesus"--sometimes started off by people we later learned we should not have trusted, sometimes convoluted and slow, sometimes with unexpected results.  Their gifts to the Christ Child remind us that we desire to give God our best--the treasure in our hearts.  They came from the East and moved westward--it's an American tendency, because of our history of westward expansion, to see "West" as looking towards a vast expanse, filled with potential.

But lately, I've been thinking about how they wise about one thing in a practical sort of way.  They knew enough not to return to Herod when they realized the magnitude of what they saw.  They returned home by another route.

Gregory the Great probably said it best:  "...having come to know Jesus we are forbidden to return by the way we came."

We may return "home" many times in this mortal life of ours, but we never get back by quite the same route.  Each time we encounter the living Christ, and experience transformation, we are changed in subtle, yet profound ways.  It's impossible to go back with the same heart and mind we had prior to the transformation.

In addition, our desires to seek and find Jesus lead us to recapitulate this journey in other ways--namely by seeking and finding Jesus in each other.  As I think back, I have been visited by many Magi in my life--people bearing their gifts of the Spirit, who found me and wanted to give me their best.  It seems these people only rarely become a fixture in my life, but, like the Magi, head off into the horizon.  Yet I think fondly of them from time to time.

A more difficult concept for me is the possibility I have been one of the wise people for someone else.  That one's always a little hard to swallow, because I don't think of myself as overly wise.  But it's certainly a very real possibility.

Who have been Magi in your life?  More importantly, when have we been the Magi for others?



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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