For those who have spiritual beliefs, as well as those who don’t, here’s a question for the New Year: are we seekers or settlers?
By settlers, I don’t mean putting down physical roots. Remaining in one place can have long term benefits as we develop relationships and increase our influence.
I’m talking about our journeys toward actualization. Are we continuing on with the belief that there is more wisdom, joy, & purpose to be found in this short life? Or have we settled for a conventional existence, a Reader’s Digest version of typical human endeavors?
I urge us to be seekers in 2015, to press on to new liberation, new compassion, new ideals.
In the Christian tradition, this is the season of Epiphany, and there are a couple things we can learn from those three iconic Wise Ones who followed the star.
First, they recognized their inner thirst. The Magi were priestly nobles in Persia. This meant they had prestige, influence, and wealth. But ephemeral trappings were not enough. They longed for something deeper, and when that legendary star in the west appeared, they did not ignore their thirst. They set out on a quest.
During this Christmas season, with its annual barrage of ads, I reflected on the underlying premise of our commercial culture. We are encouraged to covet. And not just to covet the baubles that pass across our screens: cars, jewelry, tech gadgets. Clever Madison Avenue language whispers a more pernicious message. In his book “Wake Up, America,” Tony Campolo put it this way. “In all of this media hype, things are sold to us on the basis that our deepest emotional and psychological needs will be met by having the right consumer goods.”
Things, accomplishments, ego gratification – these are all pleasant, but ultimately fleeting. Most of us wake up to this truth some time in our lives. How sad if we don’t. We are meant for something far more than material gain or Self. Recognizing our deeper thirst is vital. It’s the first step for lifelong seekers.
The second thing we see in the Magi is their willingness to leave their comfort zones. The journey from Persia to Palestine was 1,000 miles, most of it through enemy territory. And this wasn’t travel by plane, train, or automobile. It was by camel, a decidedly uncomfortable ride, exposed to the elements.
We all like our comforts, but I like the saying a seeker friend of mine posted on Facebook: The New Year means nothing if you’re still in love with your comfort zone.
Despite what motivational speakers, fitness coaches, and positive thinking preachers say, change isn’t easy. It isn’t easy in our faith lives, our relationships, or our vocation. It requires a letting go, a moving into uncertain territory, and a persistence towards goals through whatever obstacles.
But this is what seekers do, because we believe there is more freedom, more purpose, more love and unity on the horizon.
This year, let’s be seekers, not settlers.