Today the Christian world celebrates the Epiphany; the commemoration of the moment when the three kings, or wise men, arrived at the birth place of Jesus. They had journeyed far and long, following a star in the sky. They were noticing something different and new in the sky and following it to its end. They saw a significance in this new sign in the sky, interpreting it to signify the arrival of a powerful person, a king. I have no doubt that although wearied by the journey, they were excited with anticipation.
When they arrived at the star’s end they found the king whom they were seeking, in a barn! Talk about blown expectations. Their journey led them to a barn and a baby lying in a manger. Talk about a let down. Along our life’s journey, when our anticipated expectations don’t live up to reality, how do we react? For me, and probably many of us, we are disappointed, sullen, maybe even depressed.
What did these wise men do? They knelt in homage. They were able to recognize that although their expectations of a powerful man on a throne was in reality a baby lying in a feeding trough, nonetheless recognized that their journey mattered. These wise men, after paying homage, returned to their home by a different route. A new path. How symbolic in that their journey was so life changing that they came to the king by one path, yet left by a different, new path.
How often do we feel disappointment at our journey’s end and respond by turning around and going home? What if the wise men did the same? They went beyond their own expectations and were open to a new way of looking at things. They didn’t act upon what they thought nor their expectations, rather, they looked more deeply at the reality before them. It is that shift in perceiving and thinking which allowed them to see what was really present, and to be changed by the experience.
(adapted from a previous post by the author)