I took this picture of a light up Joy Christmas ornament, fully expecting that, during Advent, I would use it to illustrate a blog post. I was anticipating joy creeping in with the season and, if not banishing, then at least mitigating the sense of loss I was experiencing in moving from Parish ministry to a new vocation in the church. I was sure that I had grieved long enough, that time would do its work of healing and that preparing for Christmas would complete this painful part of the journey of transition.
That's not how things worked out. It seems that transition was not to be as well behaved or as precisely orchestrated as I had hoped. Joy did not come rushing in with the Incarnation. It did not even slip in quietly as Advent progressed. Of course there were glimpses: especially in the liturgy and the music of the season but those glimpses were fleeting and elusive.
I enjoyed the space, the lack of pressure, the less frenzied pace. I did not miss the expectations of others, and of myself, to choreograph a Christmas experience that would deliver the baby right into folks' hands just at the moment they were ready to receive him.
But still, my journey through Advent felt like wading through treacle. I was unable, even though I longed to do so, to run with the shepherds to the manger.
And so I look to Epiphany this year, not for resolution, not for any sense of completion or accomplishment, but for the acknowledgment that the journey of transition is a slow one, unpredictable in nature and encompasses surprising twists and turns.
The Magi responded to a restlessness that took them from the known and the familiar, even from those they loved to embark on a journey that wasn't mapped out, a journey they could not control or even plan. Amd, when they thought they'd arrived, there was yet another kink in the path: they managed to upset a tyrant and unleashed his wrath on innocents. But still they journeyed and were eventually able to offer their gifts to the one whom they sought, whose star they followed.
The Magi are my inspiration this season as the journey goes on...