By Jeannie Ewing
There have been plenty of seasons in my life when I felt I was on a desert sojourn – traveling somewhere, wandering maybe, but not really knowing my destination. The days and nights seemed endless, at times without hope or any sign of clarity.
Despite being raised Catholic and clinging to my faith in difficult, even impossible, times, I still fall short of seeing beyond the darkness. But the Feast of the Epiphany reminds me of one thing: follow the star.
I think of the three magi who took the risk to make the trek so far from home, in search of the Christ Child. They weren’t entirely sure they would find Him. But they trusted they would. And their beacon was the illuminous Star of Bethlehem.
Darkness can be hard to overcome, and there are so many forms of it: depression and anxiety, grief and overwhelming sadness, difficulty in making major decisions, marital problems, behavioral issues with children, and our own spiritual aridity. My life is not exempt from these. In fact, I often tell people that everything about my life is hard, at least for me.
And the thick of spiritual darkness does eclipse my ability to see what – or Whom – I am following clearly. I look for the light in my life, some semblance of enlightenment when I am in the throes of finding new diagnoses for our daughter, Sarah’s rare disease or battling chronic illness and striving to maintain peace within our extended family.
Life is full of such forms of darkness, but what is clear is that we must continue to search for the Light in our lives – the Light of the World. If we seek Him, we will eventually find our way to Him, just like the magi did over two thousand years ago. One thing I’ve learned from the spirituality of St. John of the Cross is that we walk by what he termed obscure faith; this is faith that is unclear but certain.
In other words, we choose to believe that God is sovereign, that He is near to us always, that He leads us even when we are confused or frustrated or near rock bottom. We won’t always see our path lit before our feet, but we will walk by the inner light of our conscience, guided by the Holy Spirit. That’s where the spirit of the Star of Bethlehem dwells in each of us, and that is Whom we pay heed and follow where He leads.
About the author:
Jeannie Ewing is a Catholic spirituality writer who writes about the hidden value of suffering and even discovering joy in the midst of grief. Her books include Navigating Deep Waters, From Grief to Grace , A Sea Without A Shore , and Waiting with Purpose. She is a frequent guest on Catholic radio and contributes to several online and print Catholic periodicals. For more information, please visit her website jeannieewing.com.