Have you ever wondered why the number three has often been regarded as “special”? When your computer refuses to talk to the printer or router and you have switched it off, waited about and then turned it on again, do you find yourself thinking “third time lucky”?
If you are giving a talk and wanting to describe something in as complete a way as possible the normal comfortable format is to give three descriptions – “he is warm, loving and affectionate” sounds much better than “he is quite nice”.
In fact there is something particularly magical about the number and perhaps the trip to Bethlehem by the three Kings gives us an indication of why we feel that “three” is a “good” number.
Remember, the three Kings, or Magi, were compelled to seek out the reason for a star that they had seen appear in the East and which so enchanted them that they left their homes and travelled a long way in challenging conditions to get an answer. Deciding exactly where the star was drawing them was also difficult for them to discern.
In a time well before satnav and even detailed maps, can you imagine the arguments as to which was the right road to take. After all the Kings came from very different areas.
Gaspar was the King of Sheba, Melchior the King of Arabia and Balthazar the King of Tarse and Egypt. They were used to having “people” to carry out their orders and so the practicalities of finding their way was a revelation to them (and indeed it was a wonder that they felt the need to take the trip on their own). But this did not come easy. Perhaps think of “back seat driving” and then multiply it by many. It was a bit of a miracle that they got to Bethlehem at all!
Gaspar was a very worldly King and would always tend towards taking a route using the obvious roads and paths that presented themselves. Even if the route was a bit longer, his argument was that the ease of using existing, known paths would more than make up the extra mileage.
Balthazar was much more in touch with the mystical side of his calling. He was wont to stare into the middle distance, hum gently to himself and then declare with great confidence that the way was “Thus!” His preferred routes rarely seemed to follow any discernible path; however he was always completely sure that he was being called in the right direction (but perhaps was not).
Melchior was the cool-headed one. He would listen carefully to both his colleagues, stroke his long and luxurious beard, and then suggest a route that was sufficiently direct to keep Balthazar happy but also made sensible use of the paths that already existed which made Gaspar content.
Consequently, the Kings arrived as destiny called them and beheld the wonder of the living Christ. They delivered their gifts and spent the rest of their lives contemplating what they had experienced. The one thing that they did conclude was that without the mediating skills of Melchior they would still be lost in the desert somewhere wondering which way was best. The number three meanwhile became recognised in Biblical circles as the number of perfection.
With three there can be debate, discussion and a conclusion – little room for outcomes such as “deadlock”, “stalemate” and “standstill”. The role of the third party can be the catalyst to great things – the Kings definitely thought so.
Indeed they were so impressed with the divine nature of “the three” that they founded a mystical group devoted to spend their lives carrying out the “Third party” vocation throughout their kingdoms to spread contentment and calm where there was resentment and conflict.
They called it the Association of Star-struck Magi “ASM” and it spread its benevolent calling all over the United Kingdom and places East (Anglia) (as well as most of Europe and beyond).
From all of us at the modern-day #AlbertSquareMediation and #AlbertSquare MediationEastAnglia – have a wonderful and peaceful New Year.
ADR Accredited Civil and Commercial Mediator, Certified Accountant and member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (former Chair of the East Anglia Branch), university lecturer and trainer and a member of the CIOT Dispute Resolution and Litigation working group.