One of my memories as a pre-teen kid in the late sixties is of playing records (vinyl LPs) on my parent’s console stereo. These stereos were large pieces of furniture with a sliding top, a record player on one side, an AM/FM radio in the middle and a well for storing albums on the other side.
My folks listened primarily to crooners popular at the time, one of which was Jack Jones. In 1966, Jones recorded and released a popular song, The Impossible Dream. My folks had that record and it was spun on that state of the art Hi-Fi quite often. It was a good sing-a-long song that you could really get into. I can still remember most of the lyrics:
To dream the impossible dreamTo fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To be better by far than you are
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
This is my quest, to follow that star
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far
To be willing to give when there’s no more to give
To be willing to die so that honor and justice may live
And I know if I’ll only be true to this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm when I’m laid to my rest
And the world will be better for this
That one man scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star
The song encourages you to follow your dreams even when they seem unachievable, to persevere and never give up, and to do what is right in the face of adversity. This dream, the ultimate goal, is the unreachable star.
This memory came to mind as I was meditating on the Epiphany of the Lord, which we celebrate today, in remembrance of the day the Three Kings reached Bethlehem and gazed upon the infant Jesus. Three wise men, astronomers who saw the star, had the grace to interpret its meaning and the gumption to follow it. They had no idea of where the star would lead them but they knew they were called to follow it.
They came from afar and their journey had to be long and arduous. I’m sure they encountered many dangers on their trek. They weren’t the only people who saw the star. But, they were the only ones who put their hearts and minds to the task of following it. They probably faced much ridicule to undertake such a crazy quest, one that had no foreseeable promise at the other end. But, they had hope for something magnificently good when they reached their destination.
I doubt that the Impossible Dream was written with much, if any, thought given to its relevance to this Christian tradition of ours. But it suits it to a tee – with one exception. Our dream is not impossible to achieve. It may seem that way at times when we are struggling with our sin, with difficult relationships, and periods of dryness in our prayer lives. Our quest is not hopeless – Jesus, our Star, has promised us that we will reach him if we persevere by living lives of virtue. Sometimes it feels as though we are marching through Hell, but our Heavenly cause is to grow in faith. Our faith tells us that if we stay true to our Lord, our souls will rest peacefully with Him in heaven after our time on earth is over. And, finally, because we don’t give up, we will be better people, better disciples, better spouses, parents, children and friends, and we will make the world a better place.
Follow The Star! Persevere. You may get scorned and scarred along the way, but strive with every ounce of courage you have. Like the Magi who gazed upon Jesus with unimaginable admiration, you will, too.
(Follow The Star! was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
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