Thursday, January 5, 2012

Risking the Quest


I took this picture in Petra in the country of Jordan which is east of Bethlehem. Magi came from the East. Let's say they stopped off in Petra, which was on the great trade routes. Their camels are resting while they've gone off to buy gold and frankincense and myrrh and maybe some food for the rest of the journey.
One aspect of Matthew's story that I have found rich for meditation this year is the journey. "From the East" is all Matthew says. He seems to want us to think of a distant East, places like present day Iraq and Iran and the Arabian desert. I think of what kind of courage and determination and imagination it would have taken to set out on such a quest. The risk of leaving the familiar and moving out into the unfamiliar in search of something more, their hopes pinned on a star.
They didn't just get into a bus as we did on our pilgrimage. Travel then involved hardships and dangers. They would have suffered the scorn and derision of those who dismissed them with a shrug and stayed comfortably in their homes. Finally they met with the fear and suspicion of King Herod and his crowd.
The Magi challenge me to stay on the quest. Never to be satisfied that I know all there is to know about God. Always to be ready to risk leaving the familiar ways of thinking about the Divine and to search for the "Nameless Beyond." Following a star.
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