by Ed Horstmann
In one of his poems Robert Frost offered this counsel: “When at times the mob is swayed to carry praise or blame too far, we may choose something like a star to stay our minds on and be stayed.” What is the star that “stays our minds” during these uncertain times? What does it ask of us by way of commitment?
The Bible is a book about great leaders but equally a book about great followers: their failures and foibles and faith. From Moses to Mary to the Magi and more . . . all of them, in their own way, followed a star. These people were not great because they organized massive projects or had brilliant educations or achieved major awards, but because they oriented themselves to the star of God’s dream for the world and followed it.
I do not consider myself a poet, but I offer this short reflection by way of thinking of those wise visitors who played such an important role in the life of the infant Jesus. And I hope these words may invite you to think about them as well, so that we, too, will follow only the stars that are truly worth following:
These Three Kings
They did not know one another
any better than they knew the road that
stretched before them.
These three kings were unrehearsed
in the rigors of long journeys,
unaccustomed to travel over great distances,
Yet the star would not take no for an answer.
The inevitable had become unavoidable;
they turned their camels toward the light.
At night they warmed themselves by the fire,
stepped out of its illumination
to confirm the star’s onward leading.
Their gifts rattled in the rough packs,
their teeth rattled from the plodding beasts.
They hid their shaking hands
from the king who demanded obedience —
opened their hearts to the infant king
who welcomed their love.
They went home by another way,
warned in a dream that saved their skins
and kept the child a holy secret:
The child whose light is now the star
that calls us from our homelands
to the horizon of all that love makes possible.