Monthly Archives: December 2016

RETURN OF THE MAGI – PART 2

I thought a change from my usual ramblings seemed appropriate this Christmas week. So, I am reprinting one of my favourite poems, by T.S. Eliot. Here, he retells the story of how the Magi travelled to Bethlehem from the point of view of one of them.

(Contrary to popular belief, nobody knows their names or how many there were exactly. Tradition assumes only three because there were three gifts but there could have been just two, or more likely seven, being the mystical number. It was dangerous to travel long distances in small groups in those days and often men were hired as protectors of the caravan. However, sometimes that manoeuvre backfired as the hired men could be part of a bandit gang , infiltrating the caravan to help rob it.)

As always with Eliot there is great imagery and meaning; especially the phrase ‘And three trees on the low sky’ in the second verse, that hints at so much more than a birth.

It’s been another circle around the Sun that’s maybe been accompanied by joys and sorrows. May your next one be peaceful and joyous. Happy Christmas to all of you.

The Journey Of The Magi

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

P.S. As a Christmas bonus, my novel An Element Of Time has been reduced on Amazon Kindle to only 99p for a limited period only. So, grab it while you can. It’s part of my Gold Of The Magi trilogy.

Please click here to buy straight from amazon.co.uk or here from amazon.com It’s also available as a paperback from both links.

No Kindle? No worries. Just download the Kindle App for your tablet, phone or computer and you can then read the books just as easily. 

An Element Of Time by [Freeman, K]

 

RETURN OF THE MAGI – A Force awoken?

Christmas-Star

Image result for star wars images

‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’, says the blurb. Well, Star Wars is great but it draws on a different story.

George Lucas throws more spiritual things into his Star Wars films than maybe many people realise. He falls short of actually sipping energy from the Holy Grail as a sort of ‘Lucas aid’  but he does utilise many religious things. Like Obi Wan Ben Kenobi’s resurrection, that makes him more powerful than when alive; the Dark Side and its occult practices; the Light Sabre which overcomes darkness;  and of course, The Force, a universal power akin to the Holy Spirit, if you like.

But instead of the Jedi, we remember the Magi at Christmas and their visit to the Bethlehem village, where Jesus was born to defeat the ‘Dark Side’.  There was a battle between good and evil then and it continues today. Many will probably scoff at the suggestion of an evil force. Isaac Newton would not agree with you. His third law of motion states that to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and taking this literally, if there is a force for good there must also be a force for evil. That may not be a popular opinion today but there are enough things happening in the world to suggest that it is true.

In the book of Revelation chapter 12, John tells us that  a woman was due to give birth and that the Dragon, ‘that ancient snake called the devil, or Satan’ was going to catch the child. However, the child escapes to Heaven whereupon war breaks out between the Archangel Michael and the devil and his angels, who are eventually beaten and cast out to roam the Earth. As Ben Jeapes comments in his excellent article The Other Side Of Advent  ‘The phrase  that ancient snake suggests this is the snake from the Garden of Eden’. the age old adversary of mankind.

This compares to  the birth of Jesus who had to escape Bethlehem. The visit of the Magi was a force that awoke such a rage in King Herod that it resulted in him ordering children to be killed. History reveals that Herod the Great was at that time riddled with disease and completely paranoid about someone usurping his throne. He had already executed a wife and two sons and therefore ordering the death of innocents at Bethlehem would be entirely in keeping with his character, having been advised by the Magi that a king had been born there. He would have viewed that as a threat, especially when the Magi mentioned they were looking for the true King of the Jews. The first century historian, Flavius Josephus, records that Herod was deluded, violent and vicious.So, we can understand that he might well act in an extreme manner to squash any potential rival to his throne.

Being warned in a dream of this threat from Herod, Mary and Joseph escape to Egypt and I think that somehow this is the key to what happened at Bethlehem. If there had been no danger, Mary and Joseph would probably not have had to go to Egypt. and the  quotation from the prophet Hosea several hundred years earlier which states “Out of Egypt I have called my son” would not have been fulfilled.

Of course, this prophecy can refer to the people of Israel making the exodus from slavery under the Egyptians. Also, there are echoes of the story of Moses being found in bulrushes to escape being killed by Pharaoh’s soldiers. Nevertheless, it can also apply to Jesus. It is a different type of exodus but one more significant, with a new and superior Moses, and who applies to everybody and not just Israel.The battle between light and dark is clear and is still very prevalent today in not always obvious but more subtle ways. (People  trying to rename Christmas, ‘The Holidays’, ‘Chrimbo’ or Xmas or anything that removes Christ’s name from the service of Christ’s Mass.)

Without the influence of the Magi Herod would not have killed the children, Joseph and Mary would not have gone to Egypt and fulfilled the ancient prophecy ‘Out of Egypt have I called my Son’. Why did that prophecy have to be fulfilled?  Well, I don’t really know. Did it need to link the connection with Moses escaping the cull of Pharaoh?  It does show the consistency of God’s plan to save us as a race from the evil within or around us though. Or was it that those events were going to happen according to the will of people and the prophecy was a reminder that all things work for God’s eventual plan even if some of it mystifies us mortals?

As I mentioned earlier, the Force in Lucas’ films is a very spiritual thing something akin to the Holy Spirit but not the same as Him. Luke is urged to ‘Use the Force’ but I’m pretty certain that particular instruction doesn’t appear in Luke’s Gospel. Which, in case you hadn’t noticed, is how you try to elegantly tie up disparate threads in a meandering article which anyway may have been destined to be  low on the scale of appreciation.

And so the Nativity tale will still  be shown in schools around the world despite attempts by the ‘Dark Side’ to stop it. The children may not always act according to plan in their plays but that sometimes brings more joy than what was meant to happen and makes us laugh. May the farce be with you!

P.S. As a Christmas bonus, my novel An Element Of Time has been reduced on Amazon Kindle to only 99p for a limited period. So, grab it while you can. It’s part of my Gold Of The Magi trilogy.

Please click here to buy straight from amazon.co.uk or here from amazon.com

No Kindle? No worries. Just download the Kindle App for your tablet, phone or computer and you can then read the books just as easily. 

An Element Of Time by [Freeman, K]

A TALE OF THE UNEXPECTED.

orion-2f

You know what it’s like. You suddenly wake up about 3.0 or 4.0 am with an urge to use the toilet. But it’s a very cold night and you don’t want to get out in the cold, especially if, like me, you don’t wear any pyjama top or T-Shirt. It’s cosy and warm in the bed. Perhaps you can drift off back to sleep? Yeah, that’s not going to happen.

So you lay there a bit longer and then you make the decision that you won’t rest until you attend to business. So you get out, hoping you don’t wake up too much and will quickly doze off when you get back in. That’s what happened to me the other night on one of the coldest nights we have had for a long time.  Fortunately, I haven’t reached that point in life where nocturnal rising is a common occurrence. It was 3.33 am. I crept out, hoping I didn’t disturb my wife and, having a love for the night sky, drew the curtains slightly apart to see what was on display. There was only one street lamp on (wish they would turn them off sometimes after midnight) yet despite that the sky looked deep and dark with an inky blackness that you only seem to get on a crisp Winter’s night. The air was clear and as I looked to the south west I saw it.

Rising above the neighbouring trees was the most majestic sight that always thrills me. It was the constellation of Orion, The Hunter. The four main stars making its rectangular shape sparkled with a great  brilliance containing the three stars forming the diagonal line called Orion’s Belt as you can see in the photo above (which does not do it complete justice). Dangling down from the belt was the more murky cloud of gas and stars which contain the nebula, a birthplace for other worlds.

I had observed this many times before but that night it seemed to be more brilliant, more powerful, more beautiful than I had ever seen it. In a world that some think is getting darker by the day It was like a sentinel that said don’t give up on this world yet, it’s still full of beautiful things. The universe, the whole of creation, is there for us to explore and love. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole. According to the Gestalt school of philosophy, while each of the individual parts have meaning on their own, taken together, the meaning may change.  I just know that this world is not going to end anytime soon, probably not for thousands and thousands of years. Every generation thinks the end of days is going to be in their lifetime but they are always wrong! The New Testament tells us that it will come ‘Like a thief in the night’ and that nobody knows the date it will happen so why people waste time trying to predict it beats me. When it comes to the end of the world some people may think I’m apathetic… I don’t care.

So, in this Advent season, let it be a season of hope. The three stars in Orion, pictured below, shone so fiercely the other night that they seemed to me to be symbols of the Magi that gave the three gifts that first Christmas. I found something I wasn’t even looking for when I got up that cold very early morning. Something joyous out of the blackness.  It just goes to demonstrate what I have always said…that there are just as many unexpected joys as sorrows.

3-stars

K.L.F.