“Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans; that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.”
The illustration above is of the magi, or Three Wise Men. They mark the season of Advent for me. Advent being, this journey, (or really)…a willingness to embark on a journey towards some light that calls us. Like the magi, who saw a star and began to follow it towards what they believed, Advent invites us to ask many questions – about what we believe and where we might be going.
The Gospel of Matthew tells this story of wise men from the east who came to Jerusalem asking, “Where is the child who has been born…? For we observed his star at its rising and have come to pay him honor.” These men of wisdom, knowledge and science…were also believers.They had certain facts, based on observations, but their knowledge of science didn’t seem to limit their faith…it initiated it.
I think of how often we allow science, facts, logic to interfere with belief. To know, is a guiding principle in our lives. We are educated to be critical thinkers and ascertain truth based on the analysis we undertake. We form thesis based on careful research of life and experience. 2+2 equals 4. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. These are more than observations, they become proven facts – mathematical and physical laws. If asked to believe that 2+2 just may indeed equal 5, our rational minds could not easily travel to this absurd place of impossibility. It is simply wrong. Our rational minds could not, but perhaps our more childlike wonder-filled spirits may begin to imagine, a world that was not limited by knowledge, but a world excited by miracles and magic.
This is why I love Advent and the Christmas season. It’s an invitation to imagine a world. This world is more than a place where a child was born to a virgin teenage girl. It’s a place where a child was born to be a perfect light in a dark world. A child come to light the way for us to find our own way back to the divinity inherent in us all. The rational mind will say, “Impossible…if there ever was such a light, it’s surely gone out now…I’ve seen too much, and done too much to believe such a simple fairytale.” But the fairytale is not the story…the story that remains is, we are all this light. All little lights born in a manger, into a dark world full of fear and violence. And as life goes on, our lights grow dimmer, eventually overshadowed by the dark spots that slowly and persistently mar and cover us. We make observations along the way from our own experiences – a violent childhood, a broken heart, a dream deferred, a secret shame – these become our facts of life that only belief in a miracle can undo.
The miracle says what reality cannot. The miracle tells a story that is beyond the mind. The miracle asks that we commit to believing a divine truth, even when the facts undoubtedly prove our terrible, more present reality.
The wise men had all the facts too. Then they observed this star. They were astronomers, who’d likely seen thousands of stars, but this star they chose to Follow. They followed this star beyond science, beyond knowledge, beyond experience, and found themselves on a spiritual journey.
The alternative to believing what violence, brokenness and shame has told us we are, is to trust that everything we’ve experienced has occurred, and is occurring, to compel us towards a deeper understanding of who we truly are and who God is for us and for this world. Yet, trust, is the very thing that most often holds us back from belief. How can we trust something that doesn’t make sense? In a world that says we get what we deserve, how can we trust a miracle that says, regardless of what we’ve done or what has been done to us, we are all called children of the light?
The wise men set their hearts to trust that what they knew WAS. There was no conflict between knowledge and belief in the impossible. They were astronomers and believers. And they let a star lead them into a foreign city and asked, “Where is the child?”
“Where are you, child, this Advent season?”
“What do you know?”
“Can you believe in the miracle that you are?”
“Will you commit to the possibility that you too are on a journey towards a new light?”
“Can you recognize the light that seems to beckon you?”
“Can you get in touch with your deepest desire at this moment in your life?”
“How can you be be faithful to the light that calls you?”
“What movement or inner direction does this Advent season suggest to you?”
The wise men chose to move towards honoring what they observed.
My advent prayer is to honor what I observe within myself and commit to showing up to honor the light that calls me, to respect this star, to be faithful to the woman I see becoming in me.
Won’t you join me?