I read in The Times that the skies lit up over New York City.
“There was a boom and a hum and smoke and the sky turned fluorescent blue.”
Twitter like mindedly lit up with eerie lights.
“It was spectacular”, a deputy inspector in the 114thPrecinct said. “You could see it a half mile away. You felt it in your chest, the explosions in the night sky turned electric blue.”
“The lights were so bright,” one witness observed, that “the dark night was bright as day.”
The 911 phone lines lit up, too.
Was it an Unidentified Flying Object?
Was it an alien invasion?
A lost aurora borealis?
Confused, 21stNew Yorkers flocked outside to figure out what was going on. What was the meaning of it all?
Turns out it was a celestial phenomenon that can be explained by physics: a discharge of supercharged photons into the night sky – from Con Edison. Literally an electrifying event.
Two millennium and two decades ago, the night sky likewise (sort of) lit up with cosmic confusion.
Four times Matthew’s second chapter mentions “the star.” The star that beckoned to the Magi and by which the Three Kings traversed afar.
A star? A supernova, maybe? A comet? Haley’s Comet flew by in 12 B.C.E., astronomers tell us. Possibly planets aligning? Planets are the wanderers in the dark inky sky, after all.
Or maybe it was just a fluorescing symbol that lights the way?
A tracking device, a traffic light, a GPS, a giant cosmic flashlight focusing down on the place where Jesus lay.
“The Truth is Out There,” the sage Fox Mulder of the X-Files so wisely said.
I am a nerdy, nerdy fan of this 1990’s sci-fi series. Agent Mulder’s office is buried in the basement of the Hoover Building – the embarrassment of the FBI. Mulder is on a quest. A scientific one yes, to prove that in this universe, we are not alone. But it’s a personal quest too, to search for a child, a little sister who disappeared in the dead of night.
With his partner Scully by his side, Mulder turns his gaze to the cosmos, hoping upon hope for his sister to return.
Agent Scully, medical doctor and UFO skeptic, does her best to keep Mulder grounded. A person of faith, science is her true North Star.
Together they stumble and fumble their way forward to the truth.
The Way, interestingly enough,is the earliest name that followers of Jesus called themselves.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” (Isaiah 9:2 KJV)
They had found a way.
Flashes of light piercing through confusion, stagnation, delusion.
Like explosions going off in our heads and opening our eyes.
In headlines screaming things we’d rather not hear.
In images revealing things we’d rather not see.
In events unfolding we’d rather ignore.
Flashes of light in the darkness.
Flashes of light melting into the night as fast as they appear.
Gone in the twinkling of eye. The truth hopefully internalized. Minds enlightened. Souls stirred. Limbs stretched. The Way before us clearer, brought into focus.
Like the Magi, now we fledgling Christians can try to rise up. To rise up and return to what matters most: life, love, compassion, justice. Most likely by another road. A rocky and more difficult road, a road less travelled. A road we just know that we have to go down.
Where we’ll have to do things, we don’t really want to do.
Where we’ll have to speak up and say things that aren’t easy to say.
Where we’ll have to let go of things that we would rather keep.
Where we’ll have to give of ourselves and our time losing precious sleep.
We’ll have to be less selfish and more self-aware.
We’ll have to keep our eyes uplifted to the sky.
“Star, star, teach us how to shine, shine.”
Teach us to follow the light divine.
Because truthfully, it is the only Way, the only way that truly matters.