It was many years ago yet the images and feelings are like yesterday. On a beautiful summer day I drove from the Washington, DC area where I was living to a parish in New Hampshire to interview for a ministry position. Even though I had lived on the East Coast for several years, I had not explored New Hampshire. I brought clothes for hiking in the White Mountains after the interview. I started hiking around 1:00PM. Taken with the beautiful around me, my thoughts drifted to the interview and my life direction. It was a glorious afternoon. I reveled in this beauty for a couple of hours.
All of a sudden I realized I had not been watching the trail. I had no idea where I was! I was lost in the mountains! No one passed me. I saw no one. As the sun started to go down I had visions of spending the night in the mountains without provisions of any sort. I panicked. I was afraid. No one knew exactly where I was. I doubled back a couple of times, but it was useless. I had not paid attention to the trail. My lack of a good sense of direction only made matters worse.
Soon however my proactive spirit kicked in. I decided to walk straight down the mountain and see where I ended up. I listened for any sounds that might give me a hint. It was getting darker. Suddenly, I heard the sound of cars as on a highway. At least if I made it to a road I could find help. My steps quickened as I practically ran down the mountain. Breathless I finally made it to the road. I looked around for signs. To my utter amazement I saw a sign for a rangers station and parking area. At least the park was not closed. I could ask for directions. To my surprise and delight I realized this was the parking lot where I had parked. I was back! I was ok! The road had led me, the sounds of the road had directed me to where I needed to go.
How often in life when questions fill our waking hours are we led by a sight or a sound that helps us find our way. In the Gospel of Matthew (2:1-112) from the Christian scriptures, we find three people seeking to find Jesus to offer gifts, their treasures. The story tells us that a star led them. And on their way they met a king who pretended that he too had interest in seeing Jesus and bringing gifts. Actually the king was jealous and wanted to harm Jesus. After the three had offered their gifts they returned home without letting the king know Jesus’ whereabouts. The warning came to them in a dream not to return to the king. A star and a dream led them on their way.
Do you feel lost or afraid at times? It can happen at any age. Changes in life raise questions about our direction. Life suddenly presents new questions. Unsettledness, the unknown, taking risk, can leave us walking around the unfamiliar mountains of our life terrain. However, there is beauty, new life and possibilities, too on our unfamiliar life terrain. Why are we afraid? When we want certainty, the unknown brings fear. Beauty is found in embracing and trusting the unknown. And like the people led by a star as they looked for Jesus we too have stars in our lives showing us the way. Stars that gently go with us on our journey helping us to embrace and tap the wisdom inside. We listen for familiar sounds and sights that help us see the real treasures of life.
Our deepest sense of the divine is the star lighting our way, dispelling fear, shining light on the beautiful within and around. The divine is with as we climb any mountain. Oh, what a beautiful epiphany…
Our invitation is to embrace the star.
Blessings and peace.