“Look!” My son-in-law Kyle pointed toward the night sky. Joy splashed across his face. “Can you see it? It’s the Christmas Star.”
I gazed up at the heavens. There it was. Beaming big as life.
Kyle, the engineer in our family, told me about the science behind why the star is now appearing.
“Jupiter and Saturn are aligning. It’s known as the ‘Great Conjunction.’ The two planets are so close in the night sky they appear as a single shining object. It’s also called the ‘Christmas Star’ because this alignment was probably the one the Wise Men saw two thousand years ago.”
A Spiritual Message?
“Wow! I wonder if beyond the science, there’s also a spiritual message,” I said. “It’s been an unprecedented year. Just like the chaotic times into which Jesus was born, we’re experiencing much social, political, and physical upheaval. Maybe God knows we need a sign of hope, and he’s saying something to us. What do you think his message might be?”
Do You See as I See?
The words from the Christmas song, Do You See What I See? played in my head.
They rose up in me like the soft flutter of a flute. But there was a twist to the words as I held them in my imagination.
Through the brilliance of the starlight, I imagined God was singing to all of us, Do you see as I see? Can you see the world through my eyes? The words danced in my heart.
Maybe that’s the message—the invitation.
For the wise men to follow the star to Bethlehem, they had to read the signs of the times. They had to connect the physical world with the spiritual world. They pieced together in faith what God had promised in scripture. They believed the star would lead them to the Savior.
And so they journeyed, and the star led them. The physical world connected to the spiritual world that drew them. They had inner vision to see the world through God’s eyes.
Like the wise men, we also live in a three-dimensional world: physical, relational, and spiritual. And perhaps we’re being called by God to let the Christmas Star lead us and awaken us to a deeper understanding about life.
The Interior Castle
Saint Teresa of Avila, in her classic 14th century book, The Interior Castle, wrote about how God led her soul up a staircase of faith through the rooms of an imagined castle. Each room represented a deeper level of spiritual growth and understanding.
As she climbed the steps into each room, she progressed to new levels of consciousness. Through each of the stages of spiritual growth, she awakened to self-knowledge, humility, and detachment, and ultimately experienced union with God.
Her description of how we move through unique levels of spiritual growth is an invitation for us to see as God sees.
A Glass Elevator
I like to imagine the levels of spiritual growth like riding a glass elevator through three floors: the street, balcony, and rooftop.
Street Life—The Physical World
At the street level, we experience the world through our senses. We touch material reality through our skin. We see life through our physical eyes. We recognize the ability to see, taste, touch, smell, and hear are gifts.
But, far too often we’re bombarded with news and information that attempts to inform and influence our perspective about politics, human suffering, and triumph. We get stuck in the material world and seek deeper levels of pleasure to crowd out the street level noise of confusion and negativity.
At the street level, we try to understand the meaning of life only through the lens of science and our intellect. Technology becomes our savior. Survival becomes our battle cry. Politics becomes our new religion.
There’s nothing wrong with living at the street level. It’s an integral part of being fully human. But, it’s only one part, and by itself, it doesn’t connect us with our souls.
Like Teresa of Avila, we’re drawn inward to discover if there’s more to life than the physical world, and so we move to the second level of spiritual awakening: the balcony.
The Balcony—Sipping Tea with the Creator
From our spiritual balconies, we view the world and ourselves from a higher perspective. We desire to integrate our physical and spiritual worlds. Our attempts to think our way to God have floundered. We now want to experience God in tangible ways like we do with loved ones.
On the balcony, we pull up a seat each day and sip tea with the Creator. We may hear the Creator whisper, “I’ve been waiting for you. I’m glad you’re here.” And we might respond, “Me too.”
Meditation, nature walks, spiritual reading, and quiet times with God become the spiritual foods we feast upon. They feed our souls. They deepen our unique connection and experience of the One who loves us and wants what’s best for us.
We might develop nicknames for God as our relationship with the Divine grows more familiar. We recognize God knows us better than we know ourselves. And so, like wise men and women, we seek Him.
Even the suffering we experience becomes our Teacher as we ponder the world through our spiritual lens.
On the balcony, we move into our heart space. Like Saint Teresa and the Magi, we hear God speak to us in ways that surpass human understanding. We experience our lives through our Spirits. We progress into deeper levels of awareness. We taste the fruits of inner peace and wholeness.
Up on the Roof
Have you ever stood on the rooftop of a tall building? Gazing at heaven and the stars, your body surges with gentle waves of awe and wonder. Looking down at the streetscape far below. The magic of people and lights fill you with mystery. Where are the people going? What are they doing?
And something deep within you touches your heart like a gentle stroke from the Divine Artist’s paintbrush. In that moment, you sense you’re One with the heavens and all of creation. You can’t put words to it, nor do you need to. You’re simply connected with something beyond your human understanding, and you know beyond a doubt you are One with God.
That experience of life on the rooftop, of being One with the Source of our Being, is what I bet the Magi and Teresa of Avila experienced. It’s also the nameless something I experienced that night gazing at the Christmas Star with Kyle.
Those rooftop moments are fleeting, yet they are real—and the memory of them stay with us forever. They are the moments we cannot explain with words, but that we feel deep within our beings.
God’s invitation is to know we are One with Divine Love always and forever. We simply need to open our hearts and let the Star lead us.
In those moments, we see as God sees.
The Promise is Real
Like the wise men whom God promised the star, Christ promised us we could see with the eyes of God. He said, “Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.” (Matt: 13:9-16).
Maybe the Christmas Star is a reminder of God’s promise to us. It’s an invitation to stop and listen—to see as God sees.
How about you? Do you see as God sees?
—brian j plachta