The 6th of January is Epiphany, marking the end of the Christmas season and celebrating the visit of the wise men to the infant Jesus. It is also the day that my own little wise man came into this world and today he celebrates his fourteenth birthday. Happy birthday son!
Anyway, I digress…
It seems only fitting that today’s Christmas short is based on the carol dedicated to the visit of the Magi. We’ll skip over the fact that the Bible never actually mentions that they were kings. We’ll skip over the assumption that is often made that three gifts must have equalled three visitors. We’ll also skip over the fact that this is my least favourite carol and focus on these words instead:
Star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.
It’s over a year ago now since I made the notes that will form most of my thoughts today. Around December 2016 I watched the final episode of “Planet Earth 2”. If you haven’t seen it, then I highly recommend it! In the darkness, hundreds of hawksbill turtle hatchlings were shown emerging from their nests on the beaches of Barbados. Once their heads popped above the sand, their instinct kicked in as they searched for the light of the moon to guide them safely towards the sea.
There was one, not so small, problem.
The light pollution of the city pulled the attention of the hatchlings and, rather than moving towards the sea, they turned and headed for the mainland. As the turtles headed for the main road, they were greeted by crabs waiting for a tasty snack under the bright beach lights. They fell into storm drains and were crushed by cars as the flashing lights of the city disoriented them and moved them further away from the moonlight. Those that did survive grew progressively weaker as they moved further and further away from where they needed to be and many collapsed with exhaustion. It was challenging to watch!
Throughout the year I have returned to my notes about this story, but it’s only in the past week I have truly recognised its relevance to my own situation. I know that, like many of you, I’ve done my fair share of falling into storm drains, disoriented, tired and unsure where to turn. I’ve struggled to ignore the distractions of lights that shine brighter, that dazzle and pull me away from the only light I need to focus on. At times it's felt like there have been those waiting to catch me off guard, slowing down the progress of my journey. There are also those who have fulfilled the role of a wonderful group of people who are never mentioned in the BBC documentary...
The Barbados Sea Turtle Project!
These volunteers are out every single day and night during nesting season. They spend hours rescuing as many hatchlings as they can, leading them back to the light and onwards to the water. There are many in my life who have served this purpose. They have rescued me from storm drains, picked me up when I was weary and lovingly pointed out when I have lost my way. They have also ushered me along at the times when I have struggled to see any light at all. Thank you to all the volunteers in the Kay Moorby Project, your support hasn't gone unnoticed.
My least favourite carol draws to a close one of my least favourite years. Circumstances have made 2017 a difficult trek to the water's edge but they have also taught me valuable lessons about focusing on the light. In the middle of the darkness, there have been so many blessings, and I have felt myself gravitating towards the light in a much deeper way than I ever have before. I start 2018 a little weary physically and emotionally, but I have never been clearer about the “perfect light” that needs to serve as my guide in the coming year.
“I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.”
John 8:12 (MSG)