During the course of my life, there were many different sayings and/or philosophies I applied to myself to help me deal with life’s pressures or anxieties, help me enjoy good times, or even help me cope with certain situations. While some of the philosophies or sayings I still think about it and sometimes even apply, none of them were ever really a major guiding force in my life. Born a catholic and a good church-goer, my faith sort of waxed and waned especially during my youth, and while it never left me, up until a few years ago, it was not the focal point. It has now become my guiding force. As I prepared to decorate the house for this Christmas Season, my mind, as it always does, went to the “star” which brought people from everywhere to the manger where the Baby Jesus lay.
The Star – that bright, big light that stayed right atop the place of the birth of Christ has always been a bit of God’s mystery for me. This was not just any star but a star different and peculiar, marveled at by all and for those specially called, a symbol to follow to ultimately find the King of Heaven and Earth. I am in Sanibel Island every year around Christmas. Looking up into the night sky displays a wide array of shiny bright stars. It is breathtaking really – the clarity and exquisiteness of the heavens filled with these illuminating lights. Imagine, for a moment, a star different than anything you have seen, so bright, so awesome, so precise and unique that you are compelled to ask about it, wonder about it, and perhaps follow it.
I always think about whether I would have followed that star or whether I would have dismissed it as simply a cool earthly phenomenon and turned my attention back to my little world. Would I have had the eyes and heart to recognize this light that unites heaven and earth as something more than an earthly phenomenon? I pray that I would have because, in that star, my friends is understanding that the things of the world, while all good, are not what is truly important in life. When looking around your world with spiritual eyes you will see signs and symbols from God that are showing you what is really important. These signs and symbols are drawing you to an understanding of Life through God and to an understanding of His plans for His people. The Star of Bethlehem had to be one magnificent star because think of what is was pointing us to and who that person was and became for us and continues to be for us.
Following that star means dropping everything and moving toward it whether that brings shame, loss of status or wealth, financial insecurity, and perhaps even the loss of close friends or family. But following that star also means a transformation of your life and such a deep one that you can never return to your old ways. Remember the Magi who followed the Star did not return the same way they came. They went another way. Well, they did that primarily because their life had now been changed in such a way that going back was not possible. This is sort of like when you have an epiphany – some new knowledge or understanding so fundamental your life is now radically changed. That is why the Magi following the star and coming to the manger to see the Christ child is called the Feast of the Epiphany.
When I left the law I know I left a life that was disordered. I was not in alignment with my highest self which is one that is attached and subservient to God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ. Practicing law is not bad in and of itself. All things of the world have value to me. It is us that become disordered which changes our perception and actions. However, for me, after leaving the disordered life, I finally really saw the star and in continuing to follow it I see that it always leads me straight to the humility, the grandeur, meekness, the ultimate self-giving love of Christ. Along the way I find and stay close to His Mother, Mary, because through her I gain strength, wisdom, guidance, and a better understanding of her Son because finding her always means finding her Son.
This journey has led me to focus my skills on the calling all of us Christians have: which is to bring others to Christ. This comes through for me in my mediation practice the focus of which is love. That means, practically speaking, that I am responsible for bringing God who is in love to the table during the facilitative process. As long as I bring the love I count on Christ to do the rest..in His time…in His way.
Don’t be fooled. Bringing love does not equally mush or sappy sweet religious talk. It means bringing out the truth. It means saying what needs to be said. It means putting it out there…perhaps some confrontation. It means talking compromise, sacrifice, taking a hit, giving of yourself. All this takes skill my friends..to do this gently, at the right time, in the right way. It is a struggle because people do not want the truth. They like living in a fantasy and riding the emotional roller coasters of highs and lows. They like putting on displays of power and even hiding behind persona and attitude. Being real to the core is not a “strength” in our society. However, even a drop of it – the love, the real – borne from the heart has amazing power to transform conflict.
So I say, follow the Star. Look for it because it was just here in our midst again leading us to the cold cave which held inside of it the power of love from above – the Son of God, the Child, the Word made flesh who is our salvation waiting for you to bring Him yourself and your gifts. You will see that by following the star you will bring your best gifts to Christ and through Him to others around you – including you! You will also see that you will be unable to return back the same way and will leave on a new route filled with faith hope and love in Christ that will help you to keep your heart and spiritual eyes open to see the signs and symbols of God everywhere and to receive the gifts the Christ gives back to us each and every minute of each day.
“Star of Wonder, star of the night
Star With royal beauty bright;
Westward leading still proceeding,
Guide us to thy Perfect Light.”
From “We Three Kings” – Hymn
I thank Father Robert Barron from Word on Fire for his inspiring sermon on the Feast of the Epiphany. Read it here (sermon #521) and feel the joy of your faith come alive.