Late last fall, I read a quote taken from an interview with a food writer -- and I recognized the example he was using because I'd inadvertently given him the example. He'd addressed the issue in the writing workshop he was leading but seeing it in his words, used as a way NOT to write was jarring.
It threw me. It wasn't a big throw, I didn't fall down into a pit of despair, but it was enough to make me wonder if I know how to write.
It doesn't take much to ruin our confidence, does it? I mean, I know I can write. The three article I published in Saltscapes this past year (and not one of them an "I" piece) prove that. But still, one guy in one interview uses an example -- and a legitimate example -- about poor food writing, and I'm sliding down that greasy slope of doubt.
So I've been thinking about this sign a lot since I made Dwayne stop long enough for me to take photos. It's right there at the intersection of Route 321 and the off-ramp from the eastbound TCH (the TransCanada Highway, for those of you reading this from outside Canada).
First of all, I love that someone sprinkled stars out into the world. Secondly, I love that one star fell on the "straight ahead" arrow. Thirdly, I love how the arrow and the stars make it totally easy to ignore the stop sign (in a totally metaphorically way, of course).
Today in my church, it's Epiphany Sunday -- the day when Jesus "revealed" himself to the world through the visit of the magi. Our culture has come to know epiphany as an "a ha" moment, but more accurately, it's a revelation. A revealing of something new, of something awesome, of something that is going to change your life.
And the star is the symbol of Epiphany because that's what the magi followed to find the infant Jesus in Bethlehem.
In my sermon this morning, I talked about guiding stars and following our hearts/guts/instincts, not letting other people -- like other writers -- block out the star we're supposed to be following or worse, try and claim that star for themselves. I wanted to share a little bit of what I said near the end, as I got ready to hand out stars with words printed on them (some call them "star words"; today I called them "guiding stars"):
"The other day, I saw a story posted on Facebook that I’d first seen after it had happened out in Vancouver. It is the story of a drug addict riding the SkyTrain and struggling – being loud, being aggressive, being out of control. But that’s just part of the story – it’s also a story about an older woman, sitting nearest to this man who lives with drug addiction and the effects that addiction has on him, and his life. She reached out to him and took his hand. And she held his hand as he calmed down. And as he began to cry.
She offered to him the love he needed, the love he is entitled to, no matter how he behaved.
The magi only found what they were looking for when they followed the right star. And it wasn’t their expensive gifts that helped them find the baby Jesus, that got them entry into an exclusive club – because remember: the lowly, illiterate, uneducated shepherds found him first.
It was the fact they followed a star – without knowing where it would take them, or what kind of journey it would be. They didn’t even really know who the star was going to reveal to them -- but THEY FOLLOWED IT ANYWAY.
They trusted their guiding star. They trusted it was placed there for a reason – they believed it was placed there for them – and they went on a journey to see what the star would reveal.
It didn’t matter what kind of gifts they brought – and weren’t they bringing gifts “fit for a king”? What mattered was that they showed up.
And that’s the whole point: Trust your guiding light – and offer YOUR gifts, whatever those gifts are. Which are gifts particular to YOU, and everyone’s gifts are different.
That woman on the SkyTrain followed her instincts, listened to her heart, saw where the light needed to be shone, and she used her gift – of fearlessness and stillness and compassion – to be a REVELATION to that man in need -- to reveal to him what love is.
So for 2019 – let’s each receive the gift of a “guiding star” that we can have as an inspiration, an encouragement – and a revelation.
What will your star-guided journey of 2019 reveal to you?
What path does your life keep steering you towards that you keep resisting?
How can your guiding star help you overcome that resistance – and the REASON for your resistance – in order for you, like the magi, to arrive at the one place you need to be in order to grow in your faith, to follow your dream, to use your gift?"
One thing I learned from 2018 (and there were several revelations last year) is that the only thing you can do is follow your own star. Don't let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do. Be true to yourself.
Life, and your living, is about moving forward, not matter how many stop signs keep popping up in front of you. Even if it's only one day at a time, one step forward at a time, keep moving forward, following your star.