While secular folks have taken the tree and moved on to the New Year, we Catholics should still be here celebrating Christmas. Today is Epiphany and despite many creche scenes being packed away, the Magi are just arriving at the site. The Christmas star has led them, as described in Matthew 2, to the manger, where it stopped over the place where the child was. In actuality, unlike most artwork, Scripture says that the wise men entered the house, not the barn, where they knelt down and paid him homage. They opened their treasure chests and offered gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
These men had followed a star and reached their destination, overwhelmed by joy. Each of us can set out on a road, keeping our eyes on God and the signs shown along the path, to arrive at the place we have been seeking, and feel overjoyed. When I went to the Great Lakes Region of Africa, my pastor at the time, encouraged me with these words since I left at Epiphany: Follow that star and who knows what road you will take back.
Sometimes the destination is the beginning of a journey we did not anticipate. A local songwriter, Steve Bell, and an Anglican priest, Jamie Howison, wrote Home Again/Old Sage together. I love so much about the images in this song. You can find the lyrics here: http://stevebell.com/2007/06/old-sage/. As this New Year begins, I join the wise folks on the journey home as defined by the song lyrics:
And still the search goes on for
My way back home
I can’t go back the way I’ve known
And now the road for me has changed
Nothing seems to look the same
I cannot help but wonder if they struggled to find their way home, if their bearings had been changed so much that they could not even begin the first steps without pondering what had happened to them. Perhaps they stood there for the longest time, unsure of how to even begin to return home.
The trouble, if that is the word to be used here, is that an encounter with the Holy changes you forever. Sometimes, it takes a while for that knowledge to catch up to you. As 2015 ended, I have found myself teary in my reflections. I marvel that I am here, still alive and able to serve the One who has protected me. When I review the year, I am overwhelmed. I know that it will take a long time to process everything that happened in 2015. As I try to find my way back home, I want to go back on a different road than the one that brought me here. This was a good and inestimable road, but the call is to find a new path, because the encounters with the Divine this year have taught me new lessons that I still must study. Nothing seems to quite look the same, and yet, lots is familiar along the way. The gifts that I have left are precious. The gifts that I now carry are priceless. I must make manifest the Holy that has been shown to me. Other roads beckon. I will walk them.
Have you ever had an encounter with the Holy that changed you so much it disoriented you?
What are the gifts you carry with you because of that experience?
Guiding Star, keep my eyes on you.
Lead me to the places that I am needed.
Bring me down roads that are unfamiliar.
These other roads require courage and trust.
Grant me these gifts as I walk
and help me to make manifest the Holy
to all those I meet.