“The call of God is essentially a question to which you need to respond, expose yourself, and kneel before. You don't want an answer you can put in a box. You want a question that will become a chariot to carry you across the breadth of your life.” (Greg Levoy, Callings)
This is all Van Div-s’ idea. With all the wide-eyed enthusiasm of the newly initiated priest he had suggested this preposterous journey. The signs were clear enough – of that we were all pretty sure – but most of our seniors were too settled to feel the need to do anything about it. I can’t say that I blame them. Most of them are on a pretty good package for the rest of their days, barring major political upset, that is.
Characteristically it was Van who volunteered to investigate. We’d only just finished poring over the charts, consulting the scriptorium, and deliberating as to the significance of this strange conjunction of the heavenly bodies. The land of the Jews was fabled and the possibility of a new king arising among their people was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. ‘Too good to be missed!’ he had assured us.
I have to say that his speech to the Counsel of the Wise was a bit stellar in itself. It sparkled with wit and passion and secured the much needed patronage, protection, and funds for the journey. I guess the two of us weren’t thrilled with the idea that he should get all the glory for himself and although we made a show of pretending we needed persuading, he probably suspected we were interested in the same things he was: fame and glory!
In the private chambers he’d urged us to consider. Phrases come to mind even now: ‘A bit of an adventure! Every new ruler needs wise counselors!’ ‘’Even if we come home it’s got to look good on our Records of Service.’ After fifteen minutes we feigned our reluctant agreement and drank to the idea. We were set. The three of us made preparations and readied ourselves to leave after the allotted two weeks.
Strangely, the journey’s provided time to reflect on why we were foolish enough to actually believe that this would lead to anything at all. None of us had actually considered that we and the Counsel might have been wrong. Sure, we’ve enjoyed one too many nights over a pitcher of wine during which we’ve smiled and laughed at the brass-necked nature of what we thought we could achieve, but I’ll be very relieved to get back home safe and in one piece.
A frosty, arguably menacing, audience with King Herod didn’t reassure me much, other than by providing us with a possible location to check out. Herod’s infamy is commonly reported throughout the civilized world and it’s clear to me now that the possibility of serving as counsel to a potential rival is not going to be a long-term career move in this part of the Roman Empire. So, we’re heading to Bethlehem with just two more days’ to go and I can’t say I’ll be sorry to get back to the Star-temple once we’ve delivered the Respect of the Counsel: their gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Still, I can’t help wondering what we’re going to learn after all of this. Far from fame and fortune I suspect we’ll be lucky to make it into the text of even one of the minor annals, although I hope it’s going to add to our repository of wisdom and stature. The one thing I can begin to draw from it, even now, is the compelling nature of our dreams and ambitions. They can readily grow into a call; something stamped upon our lives that can stay with us for a very long time indeed. The parting advice from the Counsel elders as we left was something in this vein. Something about ‘Remain alert to what you may hear in your dreams. The stars only point to the story, the story is always more than the stars.’ Not a bad piece of advice, I suppose. It may yet come in useful.