25 January 2010

Wise Men Part Three

One more thought on Eliot. I haven't exhausted the poem by any means, but this is the final thing that stuck out to me last week.


The wise men don't fit in. First they trudge through foreign lands and struggle to find even a resting place. Then in Judea, even though it's a pleasant enough place, they still have to move on. It's not enough, taverns and vine-leaves notwithstanding. Finally, once they return to their home, it seems far less homelike than it did before. The sherbert-bearing, silk-wearing girls are now aliens clutching idols. No longer a source of comfort, the summer palaces echo with empty dreams.

Like all true pilgrims, the wise men are uncomfortable in the world-- not that they completely hate it, but it just doesn't satisfy them anymore. The baby Christ birthed a new desire in their hearts, far superior to their previous pursuits. Now that they have witnessed a true Birth, the greatest of all Births, they see the tinge of Death on everything else. They long for deliverance from the curse.

It's not a pleasant state to be in. No one likes feeling uneasy. But that is what the truth does, and doesn't the reward fully compensate for our pilgrimage?


"These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland . . . they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city."
-Hebrews 11

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