We met at an orchard.
The dark of night had already set in.
I had convinced, even slightly begged, a friend to go night hiking with me and I had decided the best part of it was that night hiking mandated some sort of light guidance, of which I had chosen headlamps. I found the whole idea to be fantastically perfect. And I confess, I needed my friend for two reasons – so as to NOT be alone on a trail in the dark and well, because I didn’t have any headlamps. (sometimes, your best friends in life are the ones with headlamps!)
We strapped the headlamp onto my head. It took a bit of a fight to get it over my winter hat, but there she stood…. strong, steady and ready to light our way.
Off we went. At first we were just walking the clear paths laid within an apple orchard, but eventually our strides fell into terrain a bit more hilly and more intentional foot placement was required so as to navigate hidden tree roots, random dips and lopsided dirt bumps.
Truth be told, my friend carried a flashlight and so it wasn’t until I complained about how the whole PURPOSE of the hike wasn’t happening that we switched off the flashlight and lit up my headlamp. I felt like a bad-ass with that sucker on. Like I was on some night mission in the congo about to rescue a cute little baby gorilla that had gotten trapped on a rock in the middle of a rushing river. But let's be honest, if that had actually been the case, I would have sent my friend in for the rescue while I cheered. I think that would have been the most excellent and wisest plan for all involved; else I end up stranded on a rock in the middle of a rushing river with a baby gorilla (hell no!)
The closest we got to the reality of that adventure was that my headlamp caught the eyes of two deer off in the distance. Creepily the headlamp lit their eyes and made the deer look like little aliens staring back at me. I pretended to find the sight of wildlife charming, but mostly it just freaked the shit right outta me.
We continued our way through the remaining little patch of woods, tall tree after tall tree. But then, as woods do, all of a sudden we reached a clearing and the stars immediately invited our attention.
That’s the dipper, right? Completely unsure if it was the big or little dipper. I just knew it looked like a soup ladle and that’s as far as my knowledge of the constellations goes. I tried to say it with confidence, like I knew what I was talking about and that if I said it confidently I could maybe will it to be true.
My friend knows more about stars and rambled off a few smarty-pant-like things about them but I didn’t hear much. I was too caught up in the wonder. THAT IS, wondering how in the hell had I, for so many years, missed the stars. My friend had apparently taken time out of life to give them due respect, why hadn’t I? So in that moment, as if to apologize, I stood back and just gazed at the big night sky lit up by a million shining sparkly lights – I see you bright stars. I see you now. And you amaze me. You take every goddamn breath of mine away. And I thank you for that. For being a ray of beauty so deep and true my soul would sing.
I think the stars heard my heart. I think they felt me honoring them.
I think they even winked back at me!
You guys, it’s advent. That means there’s one specific star that calls to us. The Star of Bethlehem. And that little treasure was found by three little fancy magi guys.
Those magi were apparently pretty smart dudes. That’s fair. But how the HELL did they know to follow a star? Not just any star, but that SPECIFIC star?
They had to have paid attention, right? I mean, I think. I'm pretty sure that’s how they would have had to do it. They didn’t have microscopes or observatories or even a white board to map them out. And if they mapped them out in the dirt, I bet one of their older brothers probably walked by and scuffed it up... because that's what big brothers do.
So I think that means they had to look. They had to paid attention. They had to be... curious...and watch. For signs. For change. It’s easy to forget to look, I’ve learned. You have to be intentional about finding treasures, golden gems in your day. I think the Magi were pretty smart people because they knew that simple truth: to find is to seek.
And as they looked, watching night after night, something about that star inspired them; caught there attention. Why or how exactly? I think that’s the mystery, the miracle of the Star of Bethlehem. But it started with the magi, with their dedication to live curious lives.
This year life has taught me exactly that, to be endlessly curious. To seek out each next fascinating thing and moment life has to offer. That’s what I had done with the night hike. You know, a night hike with headlamps seemed fun enough. Little did I know I’d meet the galaxy.
As we walk the days of advent, my deep aching desire for you is the same: that you would simply live a curious life.