Christmas has turned into Epiphany. Churches that follow a liturgical calendar observe the shift in seasons on January 6, the day celebrating the arrival of the Magi at the manger. Everyone knows the story. They had made a long journey from the East, following a star and stopping by the court of King Herod on their way to Bethlehem. Herod’s interest was piqued (and his jealousy inflamed) by their mention of an infant king, and he asked them to return to his court to report what they had found. Instead, having been warned in a dream that Herod’s interest in the Christ Child was not benign, the Wise Ones returned home by a different route.
This year, just at the time of hearing this story in church, it happens that I am planning a journey I will soon take with two traveling companions—a friend and a dog. Our round trip will involve driving about 2500 miles. Unlike the Magi, we will not follow a star to some vaguely defined location; rather we expect to traverse a route laid out with help from various internet and automobile club sources to get us to a specific address by a particular date. Like the Magi, however, we will return home by a different route (though in our case, the change will be governed by our having more time on the back end of our journey, and thus the chance to take a more leisurely route and one with—ahhh!—fewer interstate highways and less frenetic traffic).
This juxtaposition of biblical story and real life planning has set me to thinking about what it means to take a journey. First, of course, we must decide where it is we hope to go. Then there is the matter of getting travel directions. How do we choose which signs to follow? Whom do we trust to tell us which roads to take? How do we discern when our course might be in need of adjustment?
Though our answers will be decidedly different—at least on the surface—from those the Magi might have given, here in the first days of a New Year, these are not bad questions to ponder, whether we are making a road trip or simply going about our daily routine. Particularly if we want to live as fully as possible into the season of Epiphany, acknowledging the Light that has come into the world (and perhaps having our courses readjusted by that Light), they are worth spending some time on.
And so, how about you? Where is that it you hope to go today, this week, this season? Who will you travel with? How will you get there? Whatever your destination, may your travel directions lead you in ways that are holy, flexible, and wise.
© 2014 Angier Brock