“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time” . T. S. Eliot
Matthew’s gospel notes that the Magi ” Having been warned by God in a dream, that they should not return to Herod, departed into their own country another way.” I would have liked to have eavesdropped on the conversation the Magi had on their way home. But now I want to pick up on Mathew’s comment. Many of my patients tell me that coming for counselling is the hardest thing they’ve done.But in the end they go back home-albeit by a different route. And know the place for the first time. If I come home a different way I see things I had not previously noticed. It takes a while for me to orient myself. Then familiar landmarks come into sight and I know where I am.
This coming home via a different route is a common reaction from my patients. They go back home but with a different perspective. The major perspective shift is usually their view of themselves. Which in turn alters their view about family, work, hopes and dreams. Rarely do people not go home (although that’s not unknown).
The Magi did not go to Bethlehem empty-handed. They brought their gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, which they left with the Holy family. In return they left with gifts. They’d seen something that would stay with them for a long time. Even if they were unsure about some of its’ implications. There is no record of how this group of travellers lived post Bethlehem. The same is true for therapists. Rarely do we get to see what our patients do post therapy. We have to trust that we have done our work well enough for them to go home. Wherever that may be. To know it for the first time.