A Report of a Journey
It is 500 miles as the crow flies, but nobody travels as the crow flies. The vast Syrian Desert cares nothing for a Magian mission. And so we travelled up and around, following a kinder path known to Bedouins as the Green Crescent. It was twice the distance, but half the risk: or perhaps just a different kind of risk. You see, we carried treasures, and this “friendlier” way also had its hazards. Though we might be robbed or detained, it seemed a better prospect than succumbing to the searing Syrian sun, lying forever hidden beneath the ever-changing dunes of the never-ending sand.
Our journey has an ancient origin. Six hundred years ago our ancient King besieged a Hebrew city far to the west and imported its best and brightest: the cream of the crop. Four young nobles in particular were selected to serve his palace, and were found to be “ten times wiser than our magicians and enchanters.” One, Belteshazzar, was eventually appointed ruler over the entire province of Babylon, and was put in charge of all our wise men. To our corpus of knowledge and wisdom he added strange divinations of a coming Hebrew King, which would be announced astrologically.
The Hebrews remained for here seventy years, but Belteshazzar’s legacy has persisted through twenty generations of astrologers, of whom we are the latest. Two years ago, as if by chance, we saw the celestial broadcast unfold before us: a single star heretofore unknown and uncharted. We determined to search out this King, perhaps to pay homage. But as we set out, the star shattered eons of established natural law: it moved. And we felt we were not so much following the star as we were being pulled by it, like a leaf in a river’s current, towards a destiny beyond our grasp or choosing.
We spent the next eight weeks on camels. As puzzling as it was to see a star move, it was equally strange to see it stop, and when it did, we were overcome with joy, relief and anticipation. And we were saddle-sore. Upon entering the simple dwelling, we beheld the Child-King with his mother, and we bowed ourselves in worship. This bowing was not planned; it just happened. It was as innate as it was involuntary, like catching your child when they suddenly jump to you. Our homage seemed to boil up from some ancient knowing, like a statue might worship the Sculptor who freed it from the stone. There are times when bowing is expected, but this time we bowed so that our hearts would not explode.
Eventually we fetched our treasures, still intact and hidden under the dusty supplies and souvenirs of the journey. We presented Gold for a king; frankincense for a god; myrrh for…a funeral? It seems old Belteshazzar did not leave us the key to every mystery. No matter: suddenly these gifts seemed drastically underwhelming. We felt most proper when, once again, we were drawn to our knees by some primal awareness that we were now facing our Creator. And so we were.
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