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The Star of Grace

dark-woodsFrom time immemorial the stars have been, literally, a guiding light for mankind. In the dark nights of ancient times people lifted their gaze to the starry heavens: to navigate their way through the world, to know when to sow their crops, to receive guidance in making critical decisions. The world of the stars and the world of humanity were united in a symbiosis of which our times can only dream. The starry heavens, once the focal point of mankind’s relationship to the spiritual world, has been degraded to an object of pure science, functioning at best as a subject for sentimental art or religious metaphor.

What has been lost can be re-gained. Ancient star wisdom, even that which guided the Magi to Herod and then to the child, will never reveal itself in the same way again. It will reveal itself to those human beings who willingly acknowledge the loss of the old, who willingly traverse the dry desert spaces of our current age, who are willing to allow the star of grace to penetrate their gaze. This is not for the faint of heart! For what could happen to you when the heart’s light of YOUR prayer meets up, with all its longing, with the world light of the star of grace? All our old junk becomes visible, all that is impure and all that stands in the way of the goals our Spirit has set for itself in this life. And as life in Christ slowly begins to take shape in our life, we realize: “Oh my goodness . . . I’m changing! Life around me is changing! I’m not becoming a different person; I am becoming who I was all along.” This ray of grace has shed its light on the person who wants to learn to navigate with the inner light of Christ, no longer relying on the shrill outer voices of the GPS, the radio or the internet.

Every effort to recognize this spirit star shining within us, every effort to transform the old and erect a new dwelling, will prepare the way for the constant new appearance of the Christ within our lives and in the lives of those around us. This loss of the old and discovering the new and essential may be what Wendell Berry had in mind when he wrote:

The path I follow

I can hardly see

it is so faintly trod

and over grown.

At times, looking,

I fail to find it

among dark trunks, leaves

living and dead. And then

I am alone, the woods

shapeless around me.

I look away, my gaze

at rest among leaves,

and then I see the path

again, a dark way going on

through the light.

Wendell Berry,  from The Wheel (1982)

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