Academic Major at Amherst

My major study at Amherst was in English literature. There I was introduced to the poetry of T. S. Eliot. His work left me then and now, puzzled, confused, wondering, inspired. I have returned often to his poems, and have found one to have particular meaning and relevance for my life. Yearly at the time of Christmas, and often during other seasons I remember and recite for my personal spiritual uplift, his Journey of the Magi.

At the end of Journey of the Magi, one of the wise men contemplates the meaning of the recent visit to Bethlehem:

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth
and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

Wherever my life takes me I must return to my “places”, to my “Kingdoms”, to the places of dispensations where I have known life. But I am “no longer at ease here”. What I have seen, heard, otherwise experienced …. Birth/Death, Death/Birth .. returns me to those places where I can no longer be “at ease”. I am forever in a “place” where “alien people” clutch gods I can no longer worship. Always I ask myself if it is other people who are “alien”, or is it I who am “alien” among them? In either case I am “no longer at ease here”, and can never be so. Reflecting now, I see that the disillusion I was experiencing then also included a slowly eroding “Christian” view of divinity.

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