St Mary's Uttoxeter


1 Jan 2019 • General news

Travelling can be filled with all sorts of emotions, from excitement and anticipation to tension and frustrations. I experienced much of this when the family and I flew to Lapland just before Christmas. What, from the onset, should be a time of joy can so easily bring out insecurities that lay hidden or merely simmering in the pressure cooker of our daily lives. That may in part be due to how well we have prepared and ensured that everything has been packed, or it may have something to do with the expectations of the journey and what we long to experience on arrival. The modern phrase of ‘making memories’ springs to mind – as if memories were the only objective, rather than living for the moment. Add in to the mix the need to be at the airport a good couple of hours before departure, with the inherent milling around, the strange desire to get through the check-in before anyone else, and the irrational rush to be first on board, can certainly bring out a more basic nature in people. Yet on arrival all the hassle is forgotten. Only to be resumed on the return trip with a delayed flight, a missed connection and going home by another route – maybe that’s why it brought the Wise Men to mind.

I wonder how the magi approached their journey and how they interacted with each other as they travelled. Unlike modern trips when we can fly hundreds of miles in just a few hours, those three intrepid sages would have endured several weeks over unfamiliar and probably hostile terrain in far from ‘business class’ conditions. It is easy to picture a serene caravan of wisdom inspired unanimity, but our own experiences might suggest a less than smooth cooperation; how often did they consider the cost or even think of returning? Yet their journeying was driven by a desire far greater than just exploring or sight-seeing, this was as much a spiritual journey as a geographical (or astrological) one. The objective of their voyaging was to honour a new King, and in doing so they, wittingly or not, peered into the visible face of the divine.

So often we speak of journeying through life (as a journey to an unknown land almost) and particularly as we stand at the start of a new year. I always see New Year’s Day in terms of a clean page (despite the fact that there are already entries in my diary up to June), with all the excitement that a new beginning brings. This journey has a different destination, though, “like the legend of the phoenix, all ends with beginnings” – we reflect on the year that has passed and hope to be better people. The annual making of new year resolutions underlines this deeper desire for us to peer into the visible face of the divine by unburdening ourselves of those aspects of our lives that simply block our view.

If we have learned anything it’s that we are not driven by the need to create memories, rather that we are indeed ‘fellow travellers’ and we can help each other and learn from each other. Suddenly, those willingly swapping their seats on the fully booked aircraft so that families can sit together offers a simple example of how that already happens in our world.

Wishing You a Happy & Blessed New Year