“. . . they set out, and there ahead of them went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.”
~ Matthew 2:9
I learned something new last week: stars make trails. Long, beautiful, circular trails, like glowing labyrinths in the night sky. Evidence of these spiraling celestial tracks can be seen in countless, captivating photographs taken from mountaintops and flatlands and cities around the world.
I’m thinking about the magis and the path of the star they followed across the desert long ago. I’m thinking about the magis’ ability to perceive streaks of light flickering in the darkness. I’m thinking about their faith that the star they’d seen at its rising would illuminate the most important journey of their lives.
And I’ve wondered: where are the star trails here on earth? Where are the lights that reveal the route to the promise of newborn life?
If I’m totally still, traces of the trail float before my eyes, like an interior constellation of grace. When I pause long enough to recollect what I’ve seen and heard, split second glimmers that point in the direction of the birthplace come to mind—and heart. I have been a witness.
During Advent, the last person I expected to show me any affection gave me a hug. On Christmas Eve, a two-year-old with a paper magi crown on his head made his way from his pew to the front of the church with a bag of new diapers nearly as tall as he was and placed it in front of Baby Jesus during the offering. A few days after Christmas, my twelve-year-old daughter thanked God for the emotional gifts we received this season.
These are mere moments of Epiphany. But they radiate sufficient light to keep me believing that if I look long enough I will see that the trail is still there, imprinted above to show the way.
Susan Steinberg is one of the pastors at United Church of Chapel Hill, NC. She recently completed a Lilly Endowment funded sabbatical in which she dedicated herself to being in God’s creation with intention and wonder. You can read more about it on her blog: http://suesteinsabbatical.blogspot.com/