Midweek Musing: on kings and babes

Seeking and finding. Sometimes you know you are looking for something in particular; sometimes you know you are looking, but don't know for what; sometimes you find something and did not know you were looking for it.

The Magi from the East saw a star, understood what it signified, and walked towards it, seeking the long-promised king.

I'm not sure the song is a favourite for itself, with its naming of these visitors as 'kings', and perpetuating the interpretation of three gifts as representing three givers. But as a song that points to this story of outsiders being welcomed into the story of God's renewing love, a story of risk-taking response to that invitation, a story of wonder and wisdom and imagination: I love it.

I find poems when I don't think I am looking for them. They surprise me, catch me unawares ... or so it seems. I think, actually, that in order for me to catch the poems when they arrive, to hold onto these fleeting gifts of inspiration, I must be in a state of perpetual seeking. Having realised and acknowledged that I am, indeed, a poet, and nurturing that gift within me, I have cultivated a state of constant readiness, persistent searching for the poems that might arrive any moment.

Was that what it was like for the Magi? These wise ones, studying books and the cosmos for signs of the Divine, knowing enough to be able to recognise the signs when they appeared, though perhaps not always knowing what sign they were looking for? I wonder.

Is that the story of Wisdom from the Hebrew Bible? A state of being that is open to the Divine; a diligent attention towards the Spirit; a disciplined cultivation of the gift that lies within, the story, the teaching, the way – all so as to recognise the Sacred when it turns up, surprises, inspires. I wonder.

Could that be a way to live through the dark – and this past year has felt overwhelmingly dark at times, has it not? To look for the sparks of light, treasure them, protect them, cultivate them so that they grow. To remember what creates light and cultivate hope and love so as to be able to catch the light when it shines? To learn, to study the stories and the signs, so as to recognise the star when it arrives in the sky? I wonder.

A long time ago, a co-worker introduced me to Mediaeval Baebes, a group that sing songs of, you guessed it, mediaeval times. We shared a love of such times and such music. I've had their albums on my wish list for a long time, but somehow forgot I was looking for them. Then I was looking for a version of We Three Kings, and I found what I was looking for.

May we find what we seek to know, what we know we seek, and what we know not for which to seek, in this new year just begun.


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