I have always gotten a little emotional when I hear a choir sing these words at Christmastime. I love this concept. The lyrics from the song Angels From the Realms of Glory go like this:
Sages leave your contemplationsBrighter visions beam afar;Seek the great Desire of nations;Ye have seen His natal star;
I just love the idea. Think of it. The most wise sage. The most knowledgable philosopher or erudite. In deep contemplation. Why leave it?
I love philosophy. I love pondering ideas and theories, whether they are my own or those of other great minds. I have really enjoyed reading Daniel Boorstin's book The Discoverers, which talks about many wise men who finally come to some sort of amazing conclusion or discovery. It has really been such an amazing journey of the mind to follow these seeking discoverers through their pathway toward truth. I chuckle at this quote from Ivan Turgenev about the quest for truth:
Would to God your horizon may broaden every day! The people who bind themselves to systems are those who are unable to encompass the whole truth and try to catch it by the tail; a system is like the tail of truth, but the truth is like a lizard; it leaves its tail in your fingers and runs away knowing full well that it will grow a new one in a twinkling.
Truth is fullness. Like Turgenev says, truth is the lizard, not the tail. I love the quest for truth and I would like to think of myself as someone who is constantly in search of truth and knowledge. Indeed, one of my goals in life is to someday arrive at that point where I may be called (even if only by college students or small children) a sage of sort. I desire to become as well educated in this life as I can with the time I have. I believe that if I do this, I will have a great advantage in the world to come. I believe that all the knowledge we acquire in this life is portable and will give us a great advantage in the world to come. On the other hand, our social status, profession titles, and possessions will all be left behind. We will arrive in the next life quite literally, naked. Naked of so much that seems so important now. Neal A. Maxwell puts it well:
Someday, when we look back on mortality, we will see that so many of the things that seemed to matter so much at the moment will be seen not to have mattered at all. And the eternal things will be seen to have mattered even more than the most faithful of the Saints imagined. [Even As I Am, 104]
Knowledge is so important. Both secular and spiritual. I believe we should be "bilingual" in the sense of being able to hold our own in both categories. But I have a strong belief that if we do not take advantage of spiritual enlightenment, there is much on the secular side which will be lost, or unclear to us. There must be a balance of reason and revelation. Dallin Oaks has a wonderful chapter on this balance.
This post is my shout out to the spiritual side during this Christmas season. Why should we sages leave our contemplations? What could possibly be so important? I submit that brighter visions do beam afar. If we seek the great Desire of nations, Jesus of Nazareth, we will find the full lizard. It won't be a tail left behind to keep us wondering and contemplating. Our cup will be brim and spilling over with truth for even the "Will Durant" inside of us. I love quoting Neal A. Maxwell, not only because he is intellectually sharp, but because he was a wise sage who left his contemplation and sought the brighter vision. He had many advanced degrees, yet he knew that there was much more. I love his speech called The Inexhaustible Gospel where he says that many who get to his age and status say of the Gospel "been there, done that" but never him. And that Gospel stems from Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King. And I love what he said about the intellect of Jesus:
His intelligence is vastly superior in every field to the very brightest mortals in those fields and His intellect in scope and truth far exceeds all human intellects. (Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King).
He is the great Desire of nations. Many may not understand this, but we can; and though we seek for the knowledge of the world, we will ever see brighter visions beaming afar when we, like the wise Magi from the east, seek the Lord Jesus, no matter the distance we must travel to find Him. That we may travel afar bearing our own gifts is my hope this season. Especially if that gift involves leaving our current contemplation to seek the Brighter Vision, the great Desire of nations, Jesus the Christ: the Way, the Truth, and the Life.