And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. Matthew 2:9
The autumn of 1973 was unusually foggy here in Michigan. Every morning I awoke to a world blanketed in a dense, moist cloud of grey. It was impossible to see even across the street. I recall these foggy mornings so clearly because I had just begun driving myself to school, a trip of about 8 miles due west, directly into the thickest whorls of fogginess. I was terrified trying to make my way through this mist, virtually blind to anything farther away than the hood of my little blue Chevrolet.
But I had also just started dating a young man who was very protective of me, so protective that he would drive to my house each of these foggy mornings and then drive his car ahead of me all the way to my school. I would closely follow the bright red tail lights of his shiny Mustang, letting him guide me safely to the entrance. He was a beacon in the darkness on those chill autumn mornings.
This is Epiphany, perhaps my favorite season of the liturgical year, for it celebrates mankind being led out of darkness to the hope that comes from the birth of Christ, being led by the light of a star that guides them and stops over the place where the Christ child lay.
How often do we follow the stars that appear overhead? Do we recognize their aura, the ray of light that beckons us toward new roads in life, new people to love, new ways to share our hearts and new avenues of expression? Do we even recognize the stars that shine for us, or do we blithely ignore their light and muddle along in our own foggy darkness?
The story of the Magi, the three wise men who followed the star, is a story of faith and hope. Like all stories, it attempts to enlighten us, to make us aware of different possibilities for our lives and our spirits. It attempts to kindle new emotions and awaken new ideas. To make us think about where the light in our lives is shining, and where the stars are leading. And to give us courage…for these three men set off in search of a vague promise. The world would likely call them foolish, to follow a star. But because they believed, they gathered their gifts and went on their way. Because they surrendered to their belief they were forever enlightened.
The night sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.” J.R.R. Tolikien, The Return of the King
Now tell me, what beckons you out of the darkness? Where is your star leading you?