The poem is an invitation to join the wise men on a pilgrimage that could change you forever.
As we enter into the season of Advent, a time of preparation for Christ’s second coming, it sometimes takes an enormous act of will to tear ourselves from the Christmas shopping and party-going to do the hard work involved in getting “prepared.”
But to be prepared should be our object, as today’s Gospel reading (Matthew 24:37-44) reminds us, “for at at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
Why not start this Advent in the company of the wise men from T.S. Eliot’s 1935 poem “Journey of the Magi”?
Listen to the poet read aloud the story of a pilgrimage to see the Christ child, and the profound effect that journey had upon the traveler when he returned home.
Like us, as we begin Advent, the wise man who narrates the poem, starts his trip bellyaching about how hard the journey is….
A cold coming we had of it,Just the worst time of the yearFor a journey, and such a long journey:The ways deep and the weather sharp,The very dead of winter.’
…and pining for a bit of light-hearted fun.
There were times we regrettedThe summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
For the magi, just as for the rest of us, having met the Christ, things would never be the same:
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.