So, all the official celebrations have been completed and we’re working our way to the end of the Christmas season where there has been so much to ponder and so much to cherish. Today, January 6 has traditionally been Epiphany. Many call it “Little Christmas or Three Kings Day or Twelfth Night (Christmas evening to Epiphany). Whatever it is we call it, the feast opens us to all the ways in which God manifests before us each and every day. They are a reminder to us that God loves and calls to himself all his people, wherever they come from, whatever language they speak or custom they have, however they look or dress.
It’s no coincidence this feast occurs in January. JANUARY comes from the Latin word “Janua”. It means “doorway”. It is for us the doorway into 2022. One of our Sisters from Ireland sent me this note: On New Year’s Eve, and old Irish tradition is to open your door at midnight and let the Old Year out and the New Year in. I think 2021 deserves all the doors, windows and garage door to be open. I think all of us were a little eager to let go of 2021 with very real hopes that 2022 will be gentler to us. So, how can we best welcome 2022. There is an old custom to bless doorways at Epiphany. Perhaps you might want to consider blessing the doorway to your home on this day. January is the year’s doorway–an entrance into a bright, new beginning. Perhaps we can ponder and reflect on what needs rebirthing in ourselves, our homes, our world. Perhaps we can dream of possibilities and celebrate the miracles and blessings of each second of life we experience.
The feast of Epiphany, of course, relays the story of the three Magi. Ron Rolheiser suggests a different slant on the story that I find challenging. He suggests the Magi scene presents to us two ways of responding to God’s grace, i.e. the manifestations that are placed before us. We can be like the Magi who saw a special star in the sky and followed it, not knowing exactly where it might lead. They were willing to be “stretched” in their understanding of what another kind of “king” can be about. King Herod, on the other hand, has a much different response when he hears of a newborn king. He is threatened at his core. Far from laying his resources at the feet of the new king, he sets out to kill the child and is willing to go so far as to kill all male babies in the entire area to be sure this competitor is dead. Rolheiser suggests that it is the contrast between the wise men and Herod that is the real point of the story. The Magi see new life as promise and they bless the child; Herod sees new life as a threat and he is compelled to destroy it. The Magi lay their gifts before the newborn King giving him all the support they can and Herod provides every obstacle possible to be sure he doesn’t succeed.
So as we begin 2022 there are challenges before us. Are we willing to move outside of our comfort zone to follow the star (the light) that invites us to perceive something new, not as a threat but as a beautiful gift. The invitation is to bless those we encounter on our journey, to give away some of our own lives to resource another. The wise men did that for Jesus. Are we willing to do the same in our day? And, if we are, we have to walk the slow and patient journey of following the star day by day and that’s easier said than done. We are those Magi today when we seek Him, when we follow that light of Christ, when we trust in God and hope in His promise even when we are in the cold and frigid days of winter.
The weather this week has made it clear that winter has come. The stillness and quiet of winter is also a gift that teaches us as we journey. In SILENCE the winter earth prays and we LISTEN!. It holds the gift of an experience of silence found in creation that can be found at no other season. The trees, bare of their leaves, long to be clothed in a blanket of white. The sky is eager to be decorated with endless stars. And it is in darkness that we can see the stars the clearest. Winter is nudging us toward God for in the bitterest cold, life continues and we edge slowly but surely toward the coming of Spring (William Cooper)’ Perhaps RUMI sums it all up when he says: What in your life is calling you? When all the noise is silenced, the meetings adjourned, the lists laid aside, and the wild iris blooms by itself in the dark forest, what still pulls on your soul?
One of the great miracles and blessings of our lives are the relationships we treasure. Relationships take time and effort. They require creativity as well as the ability to “waste time”. Unless we are willing to waste our precious hours being in the company of our family, our children, our friend, nothing but the pleasure of another’s company, we shall miss one of life’s rarest gifts. In these early days of the new year, what better resolution could we make then to deepen our existing friendships into relationships of communion that are holy. May this new year bless your family with special moments. They don’t have to be perfect. Share the gift of your PRESENCE – take time to be present to each other.
As we transition from 2021 to 2022 we ask God to give us the light to know what we, as a Spiritual Center, are being called to do. We follow the star as patiently as we can but there is an element of impatience in our lives as well. We miss all of you and yearn to make those connections once again.