When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. Matthew 2:10-11
It was the worse time of year for such a long journey. The weather was deep and sharp — the very womb of winter. Summer palaces on slopes gave way to sore-footed cursing men on camels. Night fires going out, a lack of shelter and muddy roads replaced palatial terraces with silken maids. There were hostile cities and unfriendly towns. There were inns charging high prices and there were dirty villages. There were times they traveled all night with voices singing in their ears. There were times when feet kicked empty wine skins and the sky hung low with regret.
They were weary pilgrims who had traveled months from a palace in Iran (ancient Persia) only to be guided by a lone star hovering over a house in Israel. They were by name: Caspar (or Gaspar) of Tarsus, Melchior of Persia, and Balthazar of Saba. They were by faith from the priestly caste of Zarathustra — Magi, Wise men, even Kings — who as part of their religion studied the stars. They were searching for the one who had removed his robe of divinity and wrapped himself in human skin. They were looking for the one whom angels worshipped, who would bring hope to the world from the placenta of a peasant. They were hoping to find the Light of the Universe, to occupy themselves with the Maestro so they would never have to simply study the piano again.
As they reached the temperate valley, amidst the snow and fog of the afternoon — the capricious monotone of a journey’s end — they stopped! Exhausted by the thought of being slapped again by the wave of broken dreams or being over-looked again in the endless race to the top of the mountain. They were afraid to trust again… tired of their mail (prayers) coming back to them with no return address. So they sat for a half hour among the violins of self-pity mingled with the memories of cracked crowns. That’s when the youngest amongst them went in all alone to see the child. He found that he was like himself, for he seemed to be of his own age and appearance. And he came out, full of wonder. Then in went the second, who was a man of middle age. But to him, the child seemed to be of his own age and appearance. And he came out quite dumbfounded. Then in went the third, who was much older in years; and to him it also happened as it had to the other two. And he came out deep in thought. When they were all together, each told the others what he had seen. And they were much amazed and resolved that they would all go in together. So, in they went, all together, and came before the child and saw him in his real likeness and of his real age. And they all reached out in unison to touch him. Six hands at an open door fell on hands and knees! They had seen birth and death, but this was different. Like death, this was hard yet easy. Like Life, this was bitter yet sweet. Then they worshiped him and offered him gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And as they returned to their palaces (their kingdoms still clutching other gods) they prayed that every Soul mount the stairs and turn the handle on the door of immeasurable peace from the one who was birthed into the cold night, and then slept on the sunrise of eternal Hope and uninterrupted Possibility!