Please be assured that this blog is secular. I just thought that with Christmas round the corner, there lives a meaningful travel tale from long ago that I should share. A Merry Christmas to all.
Once upon a time, there lived three wise men. They hailed from the East, said to be of Persian, Indian and Arabian descent. They believed in the power of the stars, and travelled hundreds of miles, to pay their respect to the birth of a great man – Jesus. (The full Bible verse below.)
The Bible doesn’t detail their journey in full, but you get the sense that these were well-beaten travellers, travelling with a goal in mind, a vision to fulfill. Travelling across the harsh desert terrain, facing the strong desert winds, 40 deg heat in the day and sub-zero temperatures in the night. In the darkest of all nights, they continued moving across the vast desert with their camels. (I don’t suppose they had flashlights and torches in the past). All in the search for something they held true to. Which is to offer precious spices and gifts to a little baby, and that makes the story of Christmas all that special.
This Christmas, we salute the three wise men. Who came from afar, from vastly differing backgrounds in search for someone special, so unlike their own, and found it. Their journey had paid off and they left as contented, happy people.
Then it got me thinking, that life is made up of multiple journeys. Some running con-currently. Sometimes we are at a crossroads, thinking which way to choose. But always remember. In the darkest and deepest of all nights, there’s a star that will lead the way, if we look close enough. Just like the Star of Bethlehem.
Lucky for the wise men, the desert was pitch dark. Can you imagine if you were to put the Star against the Singapore skyline? You’ll be distracted by the lights of Marina Bay Sands and the gleaming Helix Bridge that it will be all so difficult to detect that guiding light. That’s why in today’s world, it’s important to cut out the noise – of things that don’t matter. It’s the same for people. As what Bernard Baruch would say, ‘those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind’.
When I think about the wise men and their journey, I am in awe. Taking the seven-day Trans Siberian train was painful enough, what more several months on a camel against the elements in the desert?
Then it struck me that sometimes in our journeys of love or up the corporate ladder, we tend to get lost, disenchanted and feel like giving up. But with the persistence and resilience of the wise men, we’ll eventually find the one we’re looking for.
Christmas is about caring, sharing and having fun. But let us not forget that the biggest accomplishments of all time are done by people who have struggled against the wind, rain and heat, and pressed on with undying determination for something they believe in.
As travelling has taught me, the longest and most difficult of all journeys is usually the one that reaps the most rewards.
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In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another path.