It may seem strange to be thinking of ‘The Journey of the Magi’ in Lent, but…   This poem has always had ‘meaning’ for me ever since I first read it as a teenager, but last Christmas when I re-read it after several years I did not find in it the hope and peace that it had given me in earlier years.

As part of my Lent reading, I am dipping into a ‘Spirituality workbook’ (SPCK, David Runcorn).  There God gave me an insight into where I am at present on my Christian journey, and perhaps how to move forward with Him as my guide.  David Runcorn writes:

‘The poet T S Eliot was in his middle years when he wrote his famous poem ‘The Journey of the Magi’, movingly tracing how the journey of faith must lead us through painful disorientation to new beginning.  Having met Christ the wise men are ‘no longer at ease in the old dispensation’.  The old life is closed to them.  It is highly symbolic that the Bible records them returning home ‘by another route’.  There is no way back into familiar ways.’

Having sought in recent years to ‘return home’ by the familiar ways, it is time to realise that at this time in my life God is calling me to look for Him and to journey forward ‘by another route’. 

5 thoughts on “Journeying

  1. I always felt the bafflement implicit in the line “it was, you may say, satisfactory” suggested that aching need for something more comforting than actually occurred. We can’t go back, can we? No matter how we might long for the certainties of youth or the joyous anticipations of childhood, we accrue so much on our journey that – to spread the quotes a bit more widely – “To return were as tedious as go o’er”! So we have to press on, I guess …

  2. I’ve read that line as ‘this event both exceeded my expectations and changed them – but despite the cost was worthwhile.’ I liked this post – yes we are always being called to more.

  3. and I know this will just seem sycophantic after my last two comments on the posts below — but this too struck home.

    At the start of lent, I began and ‘lost’ a blog post while driving to and fro. It began ‘memory reaches out for imagination, for the first vision, the presence of God. What was it then, that made repentance as inevitable as breathing…’ But then I got lost. And it has been fretting away all Lent — because there is that desire to reach back, and the knowledge that one cannot.

    So it is meet others on the way, looking for other routes.

    lots of blessings here today.

  4. What I think happens is that when we are first Christian, as you say, repentance comes naturally, because we look at ourselves, and we see how lacking we are. But as we grow, not only do we become more accustomed (as you more or less said) at seeing our inadequacies daily – we actually change. We reach a point when we either actually do or at least should start to look mainly out. That is, we look away from ourselves to others. The first repentance comes because we are mainly looking at God and ourselves. In time we learn to look mainly at God and others. We ask, not: ‘Where did I fall short?’ But: ‘What does God need me to do next?’ The growth to Christian maturity is in large part, I think, a growing into being part of God’s body in the world. Yes, there is always and always will be a place for looking at our faults, sins and mistakes – that must inform our choice of action if we are not simply to endless repeat mistakes. But, and it is a big but, what grows is an ardent love for others, with all their weaknesses, and a trust of them, and a desire to serve them. It is this which turns our attention increasingly out, I think, and which decreases our insistent picking over our own dry carcasses, and so we hardly notice as flesh and sinew and finally, fluttering breath comes to us.

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