The Journey of the Magi


One week from Christmas 2015 it us time for me to post my final reflection for this year. A big thank you to all who have stayed with Another Voice for these past twelve months. Right now I plan to resume after Epiphany. If I find I really have nothing worthwhile to say, I will pull the plug on my computer. 
My original inspiration came from T. S. Eliot: “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice.”
Too many church people (like many presidential candidates) spent far too much time regurgitating last year’s language. We learn from the past but we don’t live there. And……wanting to live in the past is a very contemporary problem.
More reflections, I hope, in 2016.
For today a final reflection, once again, from my favorite poet T. S. Eliot and his “Journey of the Magi.”
The journey of the magi, you see, is not just a pious legend from the past. It is your story and mine…..
Merry Christmas and every good wish for the New Year!
Jack

……………….
“A  cold coming we had of it,

Just the worst time of the year

For a journey, and such a long journey:

The was deep and the weather sharp,

The very dead of winter.”

And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,

Lying down in the melting snow.

There were times we regretted

The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,

And the silken girls bringing sherbet.

Then the camel men cursing and grumbling

And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,

And the night-fires gong out, and the lack of shelters,

And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly

And the villages dirty, and charging high prices.:

A hard time we had of it.

At the end we preferred to travel all night,

Sleeping in snatches,

With the voices singing in our ears, saying

That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,

Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;

With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,

And three trees on the low sky,

And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.

Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,

Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,

And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.

But there was no information, and so we continued

And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon

Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,

And I would do it again, but set down

This set down

This: were we lead all that way for

Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,

We had evidence and no doubt. I have seen birth and death,

But had thought they were different; this Birth was

Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.

We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,

But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,

With an alien people clutching their gods.

I should be glad of another death.
  

10 thoughts on “The Journey of the Magi

  1. Blessings for Christmas and the New Year, to you and yours, Jack. Certainly hope to hear from you in 2016. Perhaps an “Epiphany” will come to you.

  2. Eliot’s poem surely makes a good reflection for the darkening days of Advent as we experience the fatigue and chill of our own journey toward the star’s revelation.

  3. Well done, once again, Jack!

    I knew there was much we had in common. But it continues to emerge. I too am a T S Eliot fan. I did my thesis on his “Ash Wednesday” and had started another one in comparative religions on “Four Quartets” but went to study theology instead for priesthood. Here’s a thank you from a piece whose authorship I have never discovered but whose wisdom guides me across the desert:

    If as Herod we fill our lives with things and again with things. If we consider ourselves so unimportant That we must fill every moment of our lives with action, when will we have time to make the long slow journey across the desert as did the Magi? Or sit and watch the stars as did the shepherds? Or brood over the coming of the child as did Mary? For each one of us there is a desert to travel, a star to discover, And a being within ourselves to bring to life.

    With Christ uniting us all – Fr Bob Cushing St Joseph Church 2011 Darling Ave. Waycross, GA 31501 478-284-5235 cell Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • Just an FYI: The quote is from an editorial comment on (and which follows) a piece entitled The Forgotten Christ published in December 1920 in The Association Monthly [14(12): 590], the “Official Organ of the Young Woman’s Christian Associations of the USA”. The editor was Rhoda E. McCulloch.
      Enjoying your posts, Jack!
      Sharon

  4. Thank you, Jack. I have tears in my eyes. Yes, the forward journey..whether it is the star or the light of faith which guides us.. forward is the way. Just for now I am mind weary and disheartened by the vile comments and the pain of the immigrants. History and the lives of the saints. counter my fears that in this darkness I won’t keep the faith. Today is the day I am called to be Christ for someone I’ve not yet encountered. May God bless and keep you safe on your journey. Pam

  5. Eliot is one of my favorites, yet never read this touching poem. Thanks for sharing it.

    I hope you continue writing in the new year. You provide me so many reflections (as I am sure all your readers will agree).

    The most blessed of Christmases to you and Joske.

    Much love,
    Jan

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