Just over three years ago, we built a new house on what was the edge of town. We could see the city limits boundary from our backyard. There were empty lots behind us, next to us and across the street. Our address was not listed on Google Maps or detectable by other forms of GPS.
For the first four weeks at our new address, the local cable company claimed they couldn’t connect us to internet and television services (much to the disappointment of my sports-loving husband.) When people came to visit us, we needed to provide directions, not just our street address.
No Google maps or Siri would find us; just good, old-fashioned directions. “Head south on ___street. Go three more blocks until you reach ___street. Turn right. Go to ____ street, and turn left.” We had a few late arrivals and phone calls from lost friends for several months, but we actually enjoyed being out in the boonies.
GPS, although so helpful, has become a crutch. I love young people (I teach them; I have one…a daughter), but often it is younger people that just don’t know their directions very well, having relied on technology their entire lives.
So many people have become accustomed to using GPS to navigate, not just on trips to unfamiliar destinations, but in their own cities. Using GPS has replaced following one’s own natural sense of direction and using good, old-fashioned problem-solving. To their credit, younger people just haven’t had enough experience to develop important problem-solving skills.
As we age, we realize the better route is often made by following our own star. We can make some surprising discoveries when we follow our inner road maps rather than a prescribed set of directions.
Following the star was the only inner direction the Magi had when seeking the Christ-child. They didn’t have a road map and they certainly didn’t have GPS. But sometimes that’s all you need—just a general idea of where you are headed, especially when you are aware of being guided by something Greater. They watched and listened and followed the Light… and they found Jesus. When they were headed back home, the Magi were instructed to return by another route. They learned new information that could help them on their return journey.
“They listened to a voice deep within, which led them to follow that light. The star guided them, until they found the King of the Jews in a humble dwelling in Bethlehem.”-Pope Francis, January 6, 2016
Perhaps this is the only road map or GPS we need—follow the star, listen, watch, rely on the Divine to give direction, clues and the guidance to end up right where we belong. And every now and then, take a different route.
“The journey of these wise men is a metaphor for the spiritual journeys that all of us must make. Like the magi, we must be attentive; we must be willing to act; we must expect opposition; we must give our best to Christ, and finally, we must be willing to change, to go back by a different route.” –Bishop Robert Barron
Things to ponder:
What is it that you seek?
What or who do you listen to for direction in life?
What maps do you live by? Do you have an inner GPS that you rely on?
Who or what is “king” for you?
How do you know where to go—in the course of a day, in the course of your life?
Have you ever loosened your grip on your map—your literal one, or the figurative map of your plans, your habits, your routines—and let yourself simply wander? What did you find?
Recommendation: The children’s book “Home by Another Way” by Barbara Brown Taylor, is food for contemplation for star-followers of any age.
Happy Epiphany and continued Christmas Blessings!
“…go to Bethlehem, to find the Child and his Mother. Let us follow the light which God offers us!”~Pope Francis, January 6, 2016