Most people love Christmas, then move on. Yet the story doesn’t stop at mangers, mules and the birth of a baby. In fact, some folks who set up nativity scenes argue the wisemen shouldn’t be put in until after Christmas. That’s when Epiphany comes, and I love everything about it, from the journeying to the gifts being brought to the transformation at the destination to the reconfiguration of the GPS for home. If you are unfamiliar, epiphany basically means manifestation. In Christian circles it’s talked about as manifestations of light and refers to sightings or experiences of the manifestation of the Christ light. Can you see then why culture as a whole adopted the saying, “I had such an epiphany the other day” as a reference to some awakening or revelation? Epiphany is still celebrated on January 6th in many congregations, and the story of “three wisemen” following a star to the manger where Jesus is laid is shared. Once there, they fall on their knees as they reach the place where the star above aligns with or comes through the star below. The three astrologers or kings had a personal epiphany of holy light and love made manifest in the world. They are so moved, they go home by another way, powerfully signifying how transformed they are. Too bad we don’t hear more about these transformed travelers after they return home! That will remains an imaginative novel yet to be written.
No matter where we are on a continuum of belief systems, this story has great meaning and purpose and makes great invitations. It invites persons everywhere to consider what “aha” moments might be trying to reveal to us. It invites us to consider the mystery of how we receive meaningful revelation and mature spiritually as human beings. What awakes us or in us in these times to carry us to a new place of knowing and being? It invites us to consider how sacred enlightenment comes through ordinary experiences or life events all along our journey: the birth of a child, the loss of a dear friend, various transitions, as we endure physical ailments or work with our own aging. And all this invites us to at least consider how love and light, holy stuff, sacred presence, just might be coming to us trying to comfort, care for, challenge or transform us in helpful ways today. All we have to do is pay attention.
It’s a brand new year. I’m not one so much for resolutions. They just always seem a set up for failure. Most people seem to focus on losing weight, exercising more or both. But the idea of simply paying attention and the invitations of the Epiphany story may be something I can at least gently hold with intention. Looking for stars disguised as people or experiences may be things I can look out for daily. Stars leading me to something, or revealing something, either one. Being awake and attentive to my life enough to notice “aha moments” and then linger with them a bit before I run on seems well worth my time in a fast paced, distracted world often missing out on meaning. I can then greet mystery and its gifts with gratitude, and give thanks in that lingering for something somewhere or all around that seems to want to send love and light constantly my way. Something that seems about the business of infusing my living and the living of others with manifestations of goodness, invitations to live with greater compassion, mercy and peace. If enough of us practiced even some of this star gazing in the new year, perhaps all those personal epiphanies, all that lingering with love and light would lead to a communal transformation so bright it could turn the world traveling a different way. Now wouldn’t that be a great road to be on … May it be so.