Sun sets. Moon rises. Stars shimmer over every inch of the horizon. As we breath in the still night air, silence echos in the darkness. A yearning breaks forth, amazed by the awe-inspiring wonder before our eyes.
The story of the Epiphany tells of a people inspired to follow a distant star. There was a yearning, a calling in their hearts that propelled them towards some unknown greatness. For each one of us, I believe we all have something that beckons us forward.
Who is it that inspires you with awe? What draws you towards your unknown greatness?
Love. Family. Faith. Relationships. Education.
For much of my life, the “pursuit of excellence” grounded my ambition. There was a yearning to “make a difference” and “change the world.” Much of those platitudes felt great, but their substance lacked depth. I studied in high school in college, but in all honesty I spent more times with friends and extracurricular activities than I ever did with a book. When it was finally time to graduate, I worried my little Theology degree would lead me faithfully unemployed. Surprisingly, I was humbled to work at my alma mater teaching Theology and leading retreats.
The distant star was in reach. The light of the star shined brightly. The path was clear. Who I was, and who I was becoming felt as if it was illuminated by the heavens.
And then it wasn’t.
The distant star faded from the sky. Night was shrouded in darkness. Daylight, even, was blinding. My eyes could never adjust. Even my other senses failed me. What once could easily be heard was now deafening stillness. The once cool refreshing touch of water that would puddle in my hands and cleanse my face, now felt as coarse dry sand fleeting through my fingers.
We have all felt distant from what once felt so near.
A lover, whom we spent a lifetime with, suddenly falls out of love. Markets change and a job that we once thought we might retire from, fires us before the end of the week. A fun weekend habit that we once felt in control of, swings and controls us with its addictive nature. A routine physical examination discovers something abnormal and a once healthy body becomes decrepit and diseased. Storms rage and erase away an entire town. Guns load and a school empties. Bombs drop and the thought of war looms.
As light fades, hope fades. Yet, the unceasing journey of life requires that we take another step. With the Epiphany Star setting beneath the Ordinary sky, it is time to consider that perhaps the reason we cannot see the star in the distance is that a cloud has simply wandered in the way.
What new star is rising in the distance? What beckons us beyond the clouds?
Promise of a new relationship? A drive for deeper knowledge? Longing for love?
Whatever it may be, Epiphany calls us to discover a new light that rises beyond that ever distant star. May this new year bring us the promise of infinite possibilities and the hope that the clouds will one day part.