Monday, January 5, 2009

Feast of the Epiphany

There will be no camels;
we are going on horseback,
at least for some of the way.

And we won't arrive there
a few hours after everyone else.
It will be weeks, perhaps -
or months.

We are not in a hurry.
That is not the way we work;
we are not Europeans.

We will discuss the phenomenon -
the star -
and if it does not go away,
and if we still feel curious,
we will travel.

We will look in the wrong place.
Yes, I admit that,
because wise men, potentates*, intellectuals -
call us what you will -
are not infallible.

We expect a new power
to emerge from the side of the old one.
We expect the destination we seek
to resemble what our common sense deduces.

We will be upset, angry even,
to find that Herod is ignorant
and that his residence is not the birthplace.

We will find it hard
and intellectually demeaning
to bow the knee to the son of refugees.

And all this....
all this upset will be compounded
when it comes to journeying back
and we discover
we have to go home by an alternate route.

That is the trouble with God.
He does not let you leave as you came.
He sends you back,
stripped of your presumptions,
making for home by an alternate route

The Wise Man's Journey
from Cloth for the Cradle - Iona Community
Wild Goose Woship Group, 2000 pp. 125-126

Artwork: The Magi by He Qi Copyright © 2001, He Qi

*potentates: a Ruler or Monarch (Latin potens powerful)


Ellie Finlay said...

Oh my. This is so good. This is so, so good.

brad said...

Happy Epiphany, Roberta!

I really enjoyed the poem. God sends you off on a new road, not necessarily back to where you were, and after he strips you of old presumptions, you get a chance to dress up in a whole new existence.

According to the tradition, the Zoroastrian astrologers "got it," because they gave their gifts to the holy family. Interesting that in modern Greek, Epiphany is the Celebration on 6 January but the very same word is used every day to mean the "appearance" of something. So we have a chance to get through appearances to the True Appearance!

God's Peace and health for you this day - Brad

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Oh wow, oh wow. Especially the concluding stanza.

And I love the art.