During this sacred season of the birth of Jesus, I wanted to share with you my all-time favorite spiritual book, The Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke. It is my favorite because I identify with Artaban in his quest for the King. However, while I am not as generous as he is, it is something I aspire to. I hope you can read all four parts, starting today and ending on December 26. And I hope you will find meaning and hope in the words. If you enjoy it, the original story is well worth adding to your spiritual-books library.
I have condensed the work a bit and changed a few of the words to modernized them.
The Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke
Originally published in 1895.
A condensed version (by Sabina) told in 4 parts
Part 1 – The Sign in the Sky
In the days when Augustus Caesar was master of many kings and Herod reigned in Jerusalem there lived in Persia a certain man named Artaban, the Medean.
He was a tall, dark man of about forty years with brilliant eyes set near together under his broad brow, and firm lines graven around his fine, thin lips; the brow of a dreamer and the mouth of a soldier, a man of sensitive feeling but inflexible will – one of those who, in whatever age they may live, are born for inward conflict and a life of quest.
His robe was of pure white wool, thrown over a tunic of silk; and a white, pointed cap with long lapels at the sides, rested on his flowing black hair. It was the dress of the ancient priesthood of the Magi.
“It has been shown to me and to my three companions among the Magi – Casper, Melchior, and Balthazar. We have searched the ancient tablets of Chaldea and computed the time. It falls this year. We have studied the sky, and in the spring of the year we saw two of the greatest stars draw near together in the sign of the Fish, which is the house of the Hebrews. … My three brothers are watching at the ancient Temple of the Seven Spheres, in Babylon, and I am watching here. If the star shines again, they will wait for me ten days at the temple and then we will set out together for Jerusalem, to see and worship the promised one who shall be born King of Israel. I believe the sign will come. I have made ready for the journey. I have sold my house and my possessions and bought these jewels, — a sapphire, a ruby, and a pearl – to carry them as tribute to the king. Three great gems – one blue as a fragment of the night sky, one redder than a ray of sunrise, and one as pure as the peak of a snow mountain at twilight.”
Far over the eastern plain a white mist stretched like a lake. But where the distant peak of Zagros serrated the western horizon the sky was clear. Jupiter and Saturn rolled together like drops of lambent flame about to blend in one.
As Artaban watched them, behold, an azure spark was born out of the darkness beneath, rounding itself with purple splendors to a crimson sphere, and spiring upward through rays of saffron and orange into a point of white radiance. Tiny and infinitely remote, yet perfect in every part, it pulsated in the enormous vault as if the three jewels in the Magian’s breast had mingled and been transformed into a loving heart of life.
He bowed his head. He covered his brow with his hands.
“It is the sign,” he said, “the King is coming, and I will go to meet him.”