The bowling balls were bouncing a bit at Harvest Lanes yesterday.
Bouncing…or thunking: take your pick. But certainly not rolling, not in any sense that an experienced kegler could appreciate.
Which is only to be expected, I suppose, with an excitable crew of five-, six- and seven-year-olds milling about at the head of the lanes. It was “birthday party time” for granddaughter Hannah, you see – and a brilliant stroke of foresight it turned out to be…to give all the gathered girls and boys a ready outlet for their pent-up energy.
This Gramps was glad to be little more than a spectator to the sport, and to see how Hannah’s circle of love has expanded beyond family into community. She’s got a crew now, and that’s pretty cool – especially since it doesn’t seem to detract a whit from her affection for me and my Beloved.
The party gave me a good vantage point, I realized, to appreciate the profound blessing of friends and family – our companions on the journey. It calls to mind the underlying dynamic of the feast we celebrate this week, the Epiphany of the Lord.
I noticed this little nugget yesterday, as we discussed (in our men’s faith-sharing group) the familiar story of the magi bearing gifts to the Christ child.
Behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”
It occurred to me that “magi” is a plural noun. Their gift-bearing is the action of a “we”…not an “I”. And as I reflected on the story, I understood how very important the “we” actually is. In my mind’s eye, I could not imagine a “magus” undertaking his gift-bearing mission alone. It surely would have seemed like folly – perhaps even the trek of a deranged person.
But when it’s a “we” coming together, it changes things considerably: “That star in the west: You see it burning brightly, too?” Indeed, on some level we always seem to summon the courage to “saddle up” from each other. Our desire to witness draws strength from community. And the witness itself draws a measure of gravity from this mutuality.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures…
Surely, Mary’s heart must have been filled with wonder at the scene: The specter of several sages, coming from afar to pay homage to her infant. It’s not something she and Joseph could easily have dismissed. The “we” of the wise ones testifies to the singularity of this Presence, the Babe in the manger.
All of which helps me appreciate that – whether in Bethlehem, or at the bowling alley – the finest gifts we bear to each other are not necessarily wrapped in fancy paper and tied up with bows.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.