Rest Stop (Epiphany) … expectations

wise men, three kings, epiphany, Christmas, joy, life, journey, stress, perception, serenity
Wise Men (credit: unknown)

Today the Christian world celebrates the Epiphany; the commemoration of the moment when the three kings, or wise men, arrived at the birthplace of Jesus. They had journeyed far and long, following a star (comet) in the sky. They were noticing something different and new in the sky; sensing its importance, they chose to follow it. They interpreted the significance in this sign in the sky to signify the arrival of a powerful person, a king. I have no doubt that although wearied by the journey, they were excited by the anticipation of their findings.

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 of significance; their journey of anticipation at finding a powerful king on his throne, led them instead to a barn and a baby lying in a manger. A manger, it’s prior and intended use, from which the lowly and dirty animals ate.  They found a defenseless baby laying in an animals’ food bowl. Talk about a let down.

Along our life’s journey, when our anticipated expectations don’t live up to reality, how do we react? Personally, I find myself disappointed, sullen, maybe even depressed.  What did these wise men do? According to the story, they stay, and they kneel in homage to the baby in the food trough.

These wise men were able to recognize that although their expectations of finding a powerful man on a throne was in reality just a baby lying in a feeding trough, nonetheless they were able to recognize that their journey still 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 were able to “see” beyond their own expectations and were thus open to a new way of seeing the world around them. The wise men didn’t act upon what they previously thought, nor upon their previous expectations.  Rather, they saw more deeply the true reality before them. It is in that shift in perceiving and thinking which allowed them to see what was really present, and to be changed by the experience, not changed by their expectations. 

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