The three wisemen of the Christmas story captured my imagination at a very young age. One holiday season, my parents took my brother, sister and me to the planetarium in downtown Houston to see a presentation on the Christmas star. This would be the first time that I would hear a story I’d learned in Sunday School retold from the point of view of science. Seeing that special star depicted in the galaxy as it would have been seen over ancient Bethlehem on the domed ceiling of the planetarium made the story real to me. Hearing the possible astronomical explanations for the star might have been the moment I first began to grapple with the deeper meanings of faith.
Though it was in a planetarium, the show was not limited to exploring the star. For the narrator, the three wisemen’s miraculous journey was further proof that this was an event of historic (and not just religious) significance. While the romance of the story is undeniable, that afternoon in a “hall of science,” its meaning expanded from my heart to my mind.
I learned for the first time that each of these kings was from a different place and people. They looked different. They dressed differently. If they didn’t speak different languages, they probably had different accents. (For my young Texan mind, this meant one of them said “ya’ll” while another said, inexplicably, “you guys.”) Each of these important, powerful men, in their own homeland, saw that same star and felt its pull. Each of these highly educated scholars decided to drop everything to follow that star to see where it would lead.
Somehow, as they journeyed they managed to find one another. Perhaps more miraculous, rather than deciding they needed to compete with one another to see who would get there first, they chose to travel together. I could imagine them sharing their own areas of expertise, as well as their provisions, as they wandered that desert. I considered that perhaps they would never have found that tiny manger in the hillside outside of that little village had they not chosen to work together.
There is no accounting for what “stars” are placed in our own personal skies to pull us onward. There is no predicting what passions will spark along our way and what “zigs and zags” these interests will cause in the unfolding of our lives. There is no easy explanation for the people we meet along our way who teach us and support us and walk with us as we journey.
What I have learned from my own surprising, impossible-to-predict journey, is that it is critically important that we keep an eye to the skies of our lives – like the wisemen, looking always to make sure our path is aligned with our own “star.” That we pay careful attention to the stirrings of our hearts. That we pursue those things that make our heart beat a little faster or that stir our curiosity. That we commit ourselves to learning and growing, trusting that each step along our way will lead us to where we’re meant to be even if we have no real idea where that could be.
When we have found our “star,” no matter what it is, we must follow it with zeal– body, mind and spirit. In other words, we must take action. In some cases (I can personally attest to this), this action might need to be pretty determined as the world around us might push back with questions, doubts or a simple lack of comprehension. So, like the wisemen, we invest ourselves – our time, our treasure and our talents to borrow a lovely message from my church – wholly in our journey.
Each of these journeys – yours and mine – can be as miraculous (in a tiny way) as that of the three wisemen. We wonder. We study. We explore. We meet new people. We chase new ideas. We see new connections. We seek meaning for ourselves. We might even find meaning for others. And when we do, we share – with our fellow sojourners, or the company for which we work, or our friends and family. There is simply no predicting who our “students” will one day be and how our journey might change them.
What is predictable – in fact, I would say that it is 100% guaranteed – is that there is for each of us a “star.” I have come to believe that heeding this unique, special call is what opens up entire galaxies of promise and potential in life. I am certain that there is no more surefire way to light this world a little brighter – for yourself and for those around you – than taking your own unique, individual journey in pursuit of your “star.”
Just think – as you do, you could shine so brightly in your own quest that you might become the glimmer in the sky that inspires someone just beginning his or her own long walk through the desert toward meaning.
Merry Christmas to you and may you have a blessed journey through the coming New Year.