Twenty Years Ago, Part 2


This is the time of year, when the church season swings from the 12 days of Christmas to Epiphany, that we hear the story in the Gospel of Matthew (chapter 2) about the magi visiting the infant Jesus. The inclusion of these astrologers from the east is, I think, to bring King Herod into the story – a way of establishing the contrast between the concepts of kingdoms (which I don’t believe Jesus wanted to establish anyway – he wanted to tear down hierarchal kingdoms and build inclusive communities). 

That political stuff aside, aren’t we all thankful that the star became part of the story, and our story? After all, the star is the symbol for the search for meaning. 
And most of us are on that journey. 

Through the writings of Madeleine L’Engle, I learned the etymology of the word disaster – dis-aster. Dis means separation while aster means star. So a disaster is, literally, a separation from the stars. 

Like the magi, I followed the sign of a star (the sun) after receiving a message that would change everything. Believing there was the possibility of being happy again gave me the courage to head into the unknown. And like the magi, I came away from the experience changed and did not return the way I came. There was a new way to return home. 

My journey ended with my parents at their summer home near Pugwash. What followed my arrival were several weeks of long walks on a cold, wind-swept beach as I tried to sort myself out. It wasn’t until mid-July, when I took the dogs outside for their bedtime piddle, that I finally looked up at the vast blackberry-coloured Nova Scotia sky – and saw the stars shining above me for the first time in more than five years. 

I remember thinking, “This sky makes me believe in infinite possibilities.” 

That was my epiphany -- my moment of revelation: What was revealed to me was that I had  separated from the stars and my life had become a disaster. When I finally heard the message meant for me – go towards what makes you happy, find those infinite possibilities – I found my guiding star and followed my heart. 
I made the return journey home, in the east, transformed. Absolutely not the same person I was when I headed west more than five years earlier.

Not every sign for a journey is quite so obvious and not every journey is epic or completely transformative. Walking to the mailbox is a journey – reaching into a dark space not knowing what you’re going to find inside, what message might be coming to you that day – that’s a journey. It can be as simple as that. 

Not all messages are about happiness; regret and doubt, sorrow and loss are all part of living. Yet on every road, under every star, is the opportunity to go towards what makes you happy. 

No matter what the message is, if it’s your true voice – there is a reason for it.  
Journeys aren’t about understanding others; they are about understanding yourself. All you need to do is listen to your heart, listen to what the voice inside you is telling you. That knowledge, even if it’s scary or confusing or hurtful, is your true path, your star-lighted way.

~ Sara Jewell 


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