January 1, 2023
Welcome to 2023! How appropriate it is that our new year begins within a sacred festival season. However you view it~ the return of the Sun or Son~ a rebirthing of the Light in our hearts is hope-inspiring, just as the beginning of a new year is. We are renewed through our coming together in celebration, encouraged in our striving, and moved by ever-present possibility.
It is also timely that Three Kings Day takes place shortly after the New Year. We are immediately offered a gift through this festival, that is often overlooked outside of traditional religion. Yet I implore all of you, regardless of religious affiliation or spiritual path, to read the profound message Cynthia shares with us today; it is indeed ever-relevant message of universal truth.
What can we imagine together about the tradition called Three Kings Day? When I read what I wrote two years ago, I realized that I shared from a deep place in my heart how this festival speaks to me about the relationship of wisdom to love. With your blessings I would like to share this post again below; however, with a little additional research as follows.
To begin with, I love this description of diversity among these individuals. “Beginning in the Middle Ages, the three Magi were also represented as three distinct races. Some say that Balthazar represented Africans; Caspar, Asians; and Melchior, Europeans.” I find so much beauty in that they all came to honor a Child and his Mother who were physically of a Middle Eastern Jewish heritage. We are all represented in this story one way or another!
There is even age diversity: “In the 6th Century AD, Andreas Agnellus gives the names of the three Magi in his work entitled Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis. Their names are Caspar, Balthazar, and Melchior, and they represent different ages (youth, maturity, and old age, respectively).”
They were not initially referred to as “kings” but as “wise men”. While they are mentioned in the gospel of Matthew, specific names and dates are not mentioned. It is clear, however, that the child was no longer an infant and was visited in a home, not a stable. By then, he was most likely a toddler.
I found these “explanations” on a website called Exploring Your Mind, and it is important to note that there are numerous websites with numerous ideas about these individuals, to include that there is no specific mention of there being only three. That number was assigned to them because of the three gifts that were mentioned. However, one article indicated that “Magi” was a name prescribed for wise individuals, perhaps early astronomers, who often traveled in large groups. The understanding that they were following a star makes perfect sense.
Thanks for letting me share a bit of research. I am excited that next weekend several friends, LifeWays graduates and their families, are coming over to celebrate this festival with us. We will sing, play games, eat good food and have our special Three Kings cake with three crowns hidden in the cake. The three people who have a crown in their piece of cake will then distribute little “gifts” (perhaps a shell, a shiny jewel, and a star) among all the guests. I feel so grateful for their presence in my life!
Now here, once again, is an abbreviated version of what I wrote two years ago:
My fullness arises from staring at the Nativity scene in my living room, where the innocent babe, having already been visited by shepherds, will soon be surrounded by three wise beings who have come to honor him with their gifts. My hearts swells with the thought of how remarkable, perhaps miraculous, it would be if those individuals in our current culture who are considered to be the wise ones and those individuals who are considered to be the working class (represented by the shepherds) could have a shared understanding of what it means for wisdom to bow to love.
The following quotes from two individuals I often read, really struck me as revelatory when it comes to trying to understand foundations of wisdom:
Adapted from Rudolf Steiner, Metamorphoses of the Soul / Paths of Experience – Volume One: Lecture 3: The Mission of Truth –
“Peace, concord and harmony will prevail among human beings to the extent that they find truth. That is the essential thing: that we should seek for truth as something to be found only in our own deepest being; and should know that truth ever and again draws human beings together, because from the innermost depth of every human soul its light shines forth.
So is truth the leader of humankind towards unity and mutual understanding, and also the precursor of justice and love.
That is the mission of truth: to become the object of increasing love and care and devotion on our part.”
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go –
“We all want to love, but as a rule we don’t know how to love rightly. How should we love so that life will really come from it? I believe that what we all need is wisdom. Often the only thing we’ve taught people is to think that they’re right—or that they’re wrong. We’ve either mandated things or forbidden them. But we haven’t helped people to enter upon the narrow and dangerous path of true wisdom. On wisdom’s path we take the risk of making mistakes. On this path we take the risk of being wrong. That’s how wisdom is gained.”
Love is mentioned in both of these quotes, and the gesture I have always appreciated in celebrating Three Kings Day is that of wisdom bowing to love. This is a gesture that, regardless of our individual faith or religious practices, we can ponder together. Let us devote ourselves to the effort of making our decisions and our sharing with one another based on this gesture. Wisdom irradiated with Love responds with openness to our fellow travelers.
Finally, here is a brief consideration to the three gifts that were bestowed in this mysterious story. I’ve read a variety of ideals of what they stand for, from the profoundly esoteric to simple descriptions of the substances. One I read recently resonated with the message I am hoping to convey in this blogpost: gold representing the offering of love in our hearts; frankincense representing the offering of truth in our minds; and myrrh representing the offering of service of our hands.
With this verse from the last panel of The Foundation Stone meditation offered at a Christmas Conference in 1924,
I wish you all Light and Love,
At the turning point of time
The Spirit-Light of the World
Entered the stream of Earthly Being.
Darkness of night
Had held its sway.
Day radiant light
Poured into the souls of humankind;
Light that gave warmth
To simple shepherds’ hearts,
Light that enlightened
The wise heads of kings.
O Light Divine!
O Sun of Christ!
Warm our hearts,
Enlighten our heads,
That good may become
What from our hearts we would found
And from our heads direct
With single purpose.