I was writing about gifts and their meaning and the meta-meaning (meaning behind the meaning) of a gift when I was struck by these words from Matthew’s Gospel: “… they returned by another way.”
The decision to go another way. This act of re-turning is a defining moment in the birth narrative of Jesus. This decision of turning from original plans saved the infant Jesus’ life. This trusting of one’s gut, one’s intuition, probably changed the outcome of this story – which lead to a change in the course of history. Deciding to go another way.
These “Wise Men” – and they would have been men – are described as, well…, Wise! These Practicers of Wisdom: observing and watching; contemplating and wondering; dreaming and deciding. They were led by a star – a light – shining in the darkest of days. A light – a hope – so compelling they had to follow it. Its message shone so bright it overpowered the prominent message of the times. It seemed so out of place that one couldn’t help but wonder and follow where it lead – if one were wise.
And follow they did to Herod’s halls, where violence and death and hatred spewed. They heard his message and stood in his darkness. There was no light there to see. No hope to experience. No life to be. They paid no homage and bestowed no gifts upon this earthly prince of darkness. They did not leave what they held important or sacred at this evil’s feet.
So they left! to seek another way, to seek the light and hope and life they saw shining through the death and darkness. And they found it not in the halls of earthly power where greed and lust for power bring despair and destruction, but in the most destitute of places. A place where, by earthly standards, no light should be shining. There was now wealth or power, no privilege, no pride or prestige. But humility and poverty and the pure overwhelming joy of parents delighting in the birth of a child. A family living simply and lovingly and faithfully.
It was Love they found that lit up the darkness, no violence or death or hatred splattered on the walls. But a pure and sweet and welcoming Love that penetrated and permeated the very fibers of all life. They heard THIS message and stood in its Light. There was no darkness to see in this lowly place. Only Light and Hope to experience and Life to Be Lived. They paid homage and bestowed gifts upon this heavenly Child. They left what they held important and sacred at the feet of this Love.
So they left! to return to their lives yet to seek another way – to live another way. To become the light and hope and life that shines through the death and darkness. How could they decide any differently? The wise, after worshipping at the feet of Love, could never return to the way of death and destruction. The wise can only return to Love.
God’s Peace and Love to you,