I don’t know about you, but I do not like to ask for directions. Why are so many of us reluctant to ask for directions? I always hesitate—till I am good and lost—before I’ll stop someone for help. Maybe it’s because we don’t like to appear weak or fallible, though we are surely both. Maybe it’s a self-esteem issue for some: We’re too shy or we don’t like to be a bother and halt another’s progress. Or else it’s the opposite problem: We believe too highly in our own interior compass. Whatever the reason, many of us would rather fumble around indefinitely and hope for the best than to ask for assistance.
But often in life, finding our way is more than a mastery of north, south, east, and west. I had friends in college with five-, 10-, and 20-year life plans. They could tell you precisely when they’d marry, how many children they would have, and where they expected to work and live at each stage of life as if they had a crystal ball. I wondered what would happen to those plans if they didn’t meet their presumed partner on schedule, if the economy radically shifted, or if the Christmas-card perfect children didn’t materialize as dictated. When life fails to deliver on our expectations and assumptions, we may find ourselves traveling a dark and unfamiliar road where the only sure thing is uncertainty.
From whom are we most likely to take directions? Do worldly powers impress us enough to derail our path? Do we pledge allegiance only to our own authority, our own opinions, or our own will? Is there anything outside of ourselves that might compel us to fall on our knees and lower our eyes? Most of all, are we willing to take the journey of faith, an enterprise that requires us by definition to surrender, change, and grow? Are we willing to be led along a path we cannot predestine or control, toward a goal we only vaguely know?
These are hard questions, but this is what Epiphany demands of us. God manifests the divine presence before the world. But the only way to see it is to be led there like a child.