Following a Star by Rebecca Sicree

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Following a Star

on the Quest of the Magi & Other Journeys

Walking with my daughters through downtown Bellefonte, a town that prides itself on its Victorian Christmas celebration, we passed a door in a wall down a red brick path. To this day, I cannot recall what drew us closer—maybe I was piqued because we couldn't read its sign from the street. Isabel ran over for a closer look. She wore a puzzled expression when she caught up with us.

"It says Quest Services," she reported. "Whatever that means."

The name fascinated us. Did Gandalf operate a consulting firm? Was an elderly Indiana Jones alive and well and working from central Pennsylvania? Maybe that door concealed a troop of dwarves ready to strike out toward the Edge of the Wild.

"Well," Teresa mused, "now we know who to call if we want to find the Holy Grail."

Fatal Attractions

Today we use the word quest for any lengthy search, even the search for a vaccine made by researchers who never leave their lab. But traditionally a quest was a journey undertaken to find something—or someone—hidden. In myths and folktales, the quest is so dangerous and difficult that success is impossible without supernatural assistance, whether from a goddess or a Grail maiden or just some good fairy. Some quests, like Jason's for the Golden Fleece, were meant to be death sentences.

In real life, quests can still be fatal. In 1925, the British explorer Percy Fawcett vanished, along with his son and his son's best friend, in the Amazon jungles while searching for the Lost City of Z. In the years since, Fawcett became the object of more quests than the City of Z itself. The lost explorers were never found—and neither were all the rescue parties.

So why are quests, dangerous as they are, so attractive to us? Maybe because, as St. Augustine wrote, our hearts are restless until they rest in God. Our lives, whether we realize it or not, are a quest—a quest for the hidden Kingdom of God.

Life Is a Journey

Christ himself gives us buried treasure and the fabulous pearl of great price—both objects worthy of a quest—as images for the Kingdom of God we should be seeking. But when I brought up the idea of life as a quest at home, my daughters all groaned.


Rebecca Sicree writes from Boalsburg, Pennsylvania. She and her family attend Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church in nearby State College. She and her husband Andrew have ten children, six of whom are now adults.


more on Christmas from the online archives

19.10—December 2006

God Rest Ye Merry

by Wilfred M. McClay

16.10—December 2003

Calculating Christmas

on the Story Behind December 25 by William J. Tighe

31.6—November/December 2018

Alias Santa Claus

on Childhood Encounters with a Christmas Icon by Rebecca Sicree

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