When the “mä’-gos ” arrived in Jerusalem, they explained to King Herod that they were seeking “the child who has been born king of the Jews.”

The “mä’-gos ” knew of the existence of this king they sought because they said,

epiphany-3we observed his star at its rising. (Matthew 2:2)

These “mä’-gos ” had been paying attention to what was going on around them. They had “observed” the heavens and because they were observing, they were able to see the signs that pointed the way to begin their journey.

Wisdom requires paying close attention to what is going on. When we rush too quickly to answers and solutions, we stop looking carefully. We stop noticing what is really happening.  When we react too quickly, we lack the adequate information to pay attention to the wisdom of what is.

Imagine how different the world might be today had all the settler peoples throughout history, resisted the temptation to impose their “superior” knowledge and understandings on the people they found in the places they came to settle. How different might it have been if those who came from across the sea had started by simply paying attention to what they found wherever they arrived. What a different story might have unfolded, if the newcomers had started by asking what is really going on here? How different might have been the relationship between settler peoples and those native to the land, if the newcomers had begun by wondering what they might learn about living well in this place from those who already occupied the geography.

Tragically most of the settlers of history came, not as explorers willing to listen to the wisdom of the places they found, but as invaders, determined to exert their power and force the people they conquered to conform to their ways.

This is why it is so important that the “mä’-gos ” of Matthew’s story were not kings; they were wise ones. As wise ones, they came asking questions. When King Herod sought to involve them in his struggle for power, they refused to participate. When Herod coaxed the “mä’-gos ” to cooperate with his plan for power, they simply walked away. Matthew says,

having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. (Mathew 2:12)

Wisdom does not play the game of power. Wisdom never imposes its will on the other. Wisdom seeks to bend the magi-worshipknee and pay homage to the power of love. And love always moves us to  open and to share:

On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their trasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11)

The path to wisdom lies along the way of surrender. When I lay down all that I treasure before the power of love, a new way of being opens. I discover a power of which Herod knows nothing. A path opens within the surrendered heart that will never be known to the crafty designs and the scheming strategies of the world.

My feet are set upon this path, when I pay attention to what is. When I notice what is going on around me and honour life enough to observe the realities that are unfolding I will discover a deep knowing opening in my heart that has the capacity to guide me into the fuller presence of love. This is the way of wisdom.

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Three weeks before he died, the Canadian poet and singer/songwriter and “mä’-gos ” Leonard Cohen, wrote a short poem that points to the way of attention as the path to wisdom:

Listen to the hummingbird
Whose wings you cannot see
Listen to the hummingbird
Don’t listen to me.

Listen to the butterfly
Whose days but number three
Listen to the butterfly
Don’t listen to me.

Listen to the mind of God
Which doesn’t need to be
Listen to the mind of God
Don’t listen to me.

 

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