‘Wide is the darkness,’ says Father Andrew, the pioneering Anglican Franciscan, but the light of a single star guided the Wise Men to the stable.
The North Star, Polaris, shines from above Earth’s North Pole, seemingly fixed in space for our benefit in finding our way over sea or land. Yet this is not so simple as a lamp fixed in the sky for us. The light from Polaris reaches Earth something like 447 light years after it left the North Star, only to be ignored by most people, most of the time. (The last time I heard someone showing a child the North Star he was pointing in the opposite direction.)
Let’s be grateful for the co-ordination that allows 447 year-old light to contribute to safety on earth ‘ever so far’ away. May we always accept such gifts with joy, and learn to steer our heavenward path by the lights Our Father has given us: Scripture, community, prayer and loving mercy.
Wide is the darkness, dark is the night,
Only a star
Shining so silverly, flingeth its light
Ever so far;
Yet by its lure are led
Men who have visioned
God’s door unlatcheted
And held ajar.
‘Restless our souls must be,’ Augustine said,
Seeking for Thee,
‘Lord, till they rest in Thee,’ uncomforted,
Athirst for Thee;
For Thou hast made us so,
And souls must questing go,
Thralled by the golden flow,
Lord, let not silver spell of that blest star
Be dimmed for me.
Constant my questing keep, faring so far,
Seeking for Thee;
Nor let pride find a flaw,
Seeing what wise men saw,
Babe in poor stable straw –