Sunday, January 07, 2007

Epiphany: Our Journey of the Magi

Entry for 7 January 2007:

Our journey home was long and tiring; after waiting at Gatwick for almost 6 hours, we arrived in Glasgow to discover that my suitcase had not followed us. This has happened to me so many times that I regard it as a minor hassle. What was more difficult was coming home to a cold house, with the central heat out --again -- and no way of contacting the owner to have it fixed until Monday. But we managed to light the gas fire in the lounge (=living room) and borrow an electric space heater from our neighbour. After a couple of hours, the temperature in the kitchen had risen to 55 degrees F (=8 C). We opted for an early bedtime under clammy covers, which eventually warmed up.

This morning the courier delivered our suitcase early enough for us to make it to church. We were late, but arrived just in time for a reading of T.S. Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi,” one of my favorite poems, and certainly my favorite Christmas-related poem. This turned out to be turning point for us: Our friend John proceeded to preach a lovely sermon on the magi story, interweaving both biblical and Eliot versions.

I have been known to inflict this poem on my family during the holidays. Since I discovered Eliot during my adolescence, I have found his poetry has carried a biblical weight and density for me. (Four Quartets is my favorite and I even have the graphic novel version of Wasteland, but “Journey” is right up there, along with “Ash Wednesday”.)

As the serviced unfolded, we found ourselves welcomed back; people had missed us and talked about us in our absence. John and Nena, in particular, were really pleased to see us. Fran and Robert came up afterwards and introduced themselves; she turns out to be one of the counsellors on the Glasgow School Counselling Project. Then, after church, we had a probing discussion of the Magi story and its moral and theological implications that left us pondering and talking the rest of the day.

Fran and I each made the connection between the image of God/Goddess as a companion who suffers with us in such as way as to reveal new possibilities – and our work as Person-Centred/Experiential counsellors and therapists. Like God, we do not force or control, but offer possibilities, which our clients can choose to take up or not. For a long time, this parallel between the spiritual and the psychotherapeutic has resonated deeply with me; my long-ago adolescent intuition of this is one of the main reasons that I choose to become a therapist.

To have all this re-revealed on the celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany, at the end of a long and frustrating journey and homecoming, was an unexpected gift. Diane and I left, feeling warm and welcomed home. Cold house or no, we are moving forward: Diane has passed her IELTS exam, I’ve cleared out an enormous collection of old email; Celtic Connections and Burns Night are coming; and it’s back to work for me tomorrow among colleagues whom I respect and enjoy. It is clear to us now that we are part of a larger community here, and that here, too, is our home.

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