Wednesday, January 6, 2010

To Show, To Make Known


Happy Epiphany! I’m not sure that is the proper way to acknowledge this day and it does feel a little secular. Perhaps Blessed Epiphany?

I was not raised in a tradition that followed the liturgical year and so it has only been in the past few years that I have been aware of these special days (other than Christmas and Easter) throughout the year. Almost ten years ago the feast of Epiphany fell during a silent women’s retreat that I was attending. That retreat was a crossroads in my life and I have never forgotten January 6 since. I cannot say that I understand the liturgical or theological importance of this day, I can only say that it feels important to me personally.

I love the word ephiphany. I love the way it sounds and the way it feels in my mouth as I speak it. I love all of the meaning wrapped up in it, so full of surprise and possibility. The possibility that a new insight or a new way of seeing could forever change our lives. The word literally means appearance or manifestation. So for me, it means all of those times God bursts onto my scene. And sometimes that means the proverbial light bulb going off over my head and the aha(!) escaping from my lips. But it also means the times that I have a quiet knowing, a sureness that comes from some place deeper than just myself.

Having the aha moment or the great epiphany can be very exciting. Having all of the puzzle pieces fall into place after a long discernment or just receiving the grace of an understanding from seemingly nowhere can be a spiritual and emotional thrill. But, it seems to me that most of my epiphanies have brought with them an invitation to change and to transform. They come for my benefit and for the benefit of the world, and so I am asked to act. That action usually requires courage, integrity and discipline.

I recall one particular epiphany that was so powerful it was almost miraculous. (OK, it wasn’t almost, it was miraculous.) I witnessed a whole scene unfold before me and then I immediately knew that it had to do with a very painful confrontation that I needed to make. In that moment, I not only knew what I was supposed to do, but exactly how I was supposed to do it. But then as I set about acting upon my knowing, waves and waves of fear and anxiety set in. Somehow, I waded my way through all of it, did exactly what I knew I needed to do and the result was a beautiful reconciliation that has lead to true forgiveness and new relationship.

Not all epiphanies require work, of course. Sometimes my knowing is that I must surrender my control, let go, fall back into the loving hands of God, rest, and wait.

I am grateful for all of the epiphanies in my life, both small and great. They come way more than once a year and if I am awake enough I will see and know them. May all of your epiphanies be truly blessed.

15 comments:

Macrina said...

Happy Epiphany...Even though the Church has now moved this feast to the first Sunday after New Years the real Epiphany in my heart will always be Jan. 6. My mother died on the vigil of Epiphany (Jan 5) and so that date is forever etched in my heart. I hope you have a wonderful Epiphany this year...manifestations and revelations, burning bushes, flames of insight...I gift you with the Light.

Jennifer said...

I hope your blog is one day turned into a book for inspirational reading for an entire year. Your work just makes me feel peaceful and it seems it ALWAYS touches on exactly what my life is calling for in a given moment. I have had a HUGE epiphany recently and just today took another step into action of which I have been VERY SCARED to do, but I know I must do it.

I appreciate your sensitivity most of all.

I would dream to be able to convey my thoughts in a manner that brings so much hope & peace to others. You are gifted.

I thank you for this superbly written post and Blessed Epiphany to You.

Rebecca Johnson said...

Macrina, Epiphany must indeed be a bittersweet day for you. A day of remembering someone who was so dear to you and remembering her passing. Thank you for sharing that piece. And THANK YOU for the gift of LIGHT! I can always use a little more. : )

Love....

Rebecca Johnson said...

Jennifer, I am so glad that you popped by so bright and early today! I have been away from the blog for a couple of weeks. There was no internet where we were staying over the holidays(!). It was good and bad. : ) But, I had read your recent posts about your difficult decision and you were my inspiration for becoming aware of what an epiphany often asks of us. I was thrilled down to my toes as I read that you didn't need to talk to anyone about this momentous decision, you already KNEW. Usually I talk around and around those big decisions, but once in a while it will happen the way it has for you this time. And in the midst of the storm there is a grounding and solidity. I know that is present in you.

Your words about this blog are very kind and I am so glad that you take something away that is helpful to you. One of the goals of my blog is to always be loving, to bring a little more love into the world. I hope that is what you are sensing.

Please know that I continually marvel at your writing. I am amazed at how well you hold your thoughts together with coherence and beauty even when the emotions are soaring. I haven't commented much lately, but you are very much in my heart as you navigate this process. Really. I can only imagine how difficult it must be.

Love....

The Pollinatrix said...

First I must say that I'm so glad you're back! I missed you and was actually getting a little worried.

This is a wonderful post, and I share your love for the word "epiphany." What you've said is exactly how I feel about it.

My Epiphany began last night with a horrible nightmare. I haven't had an experience like that in a very long time. I woke up feeling a presence of evil in the room. But it led me to God. Somehow experiencing a substance of evil confirmed for me the substance of God. There's an interesting post about Epiphany at The Website of Unknowing (anamchara.com) today that ties in with this uncannily.

How strange to have an epiphany of evil! Not what I was expecting at all. My thoughts this morning are that when we awaken, we awaken to fear as well as to love, to evil as well as to Good, and that this is the place where compassion is born.

I've enjoyed reading your conversation with Jennifer on this post. I'm so glad you two have connected! What you say about bringing more love into the world really speaks to me. My word for the year is "love." And it was to the divine Love that I turned last night after my nightmare.

Also, I heartily second everything Jennifer said about you and your blog.

Sulwyn said...

Growing up, I dreaded Epiphany because that was when my church had it's pageant, so that they were liturgically correct in showing the wise men arriving! Lately it is more of a waiting, and I have to remind myself that scholars have said that it took two years for the Magi to arrive at Jesus's home. Yikes! As always, your words have made me think and rethink this day that I have taken for granted for so long. Thank you!

Jennifer said...

Rebecca...as confident as I was in my decision and process and settled in the matter I cannot tell you how much your words have touched me. I cannot express to you how meaningful this was for me. I THANK YOU from the depth of my heart. To know that I might have given someone a tiny bit of inspiration has honestly made me cry. It is one thing to do as I have done, but it is another process entirely to share it with the world...Oh, thank you!

Rebecca Johnson said...

Hi Polli, Sorry to have worried you, even a little bit. Maybe next time I will post something about being gone for a while. It's funny. I don't think that anyone misses me, but if you disappeared for two weeks I would have the same reaction!

What an interesting thought about the epiphany of evil, in your case and evil in your very space, but also the idea that we must be continually awakened to the presence of evil in our world. I assume that you would think that this epiphany of evil was from God. Or do you?

I also LOVE that the epiphany of evil was accompanied by the awareness of the presence of LOVE. The only thing that will ever overcome evil.

And yes, how do we have compassion unless we experience fear and face evil.

I love the way that everyone seems to be connecting with the theme of epiphany today, even though the church officially moved the date as Macrina mentions above. I am so glad that we are all continuing to hold it in our hearts this day.

Love...

Rebecca Johnson said...

Sulwyn, Did you dread your pageant? How interesting.

Yes, two years instead of 12 days. Something more to ponder. I offer you the blessing of loving surprises during your time of waiting.

Love....

Rebecca Johnson said...

Jennifer, Please claim for yourself that you are a continual inspiration. I see that you struggle a little bit with what should or should not be in your blog. I see others struggling with the same thing at other sites. You are brave indeed to share the fact that your life is messy (like all of us) but that show us that you are grounded, loving, wise and moving forward. I know that you already know this but I will remind you that the choices that you are making now are the most LOVING choices, for EVERYONE involved.

Love...

Tess said...

Happy Epiphany to you too. You make a good distinction between the Epiphanies that need work and those that visit us like angels. Or angelic light bulbs at least. Both are beautiful.

I don't know if you're a reader of The Painted Prayerbook, but if not, you must read Jan's Epiphany post here: http://bit.ly/6YX96u

Tess said...

D'oh, of course you read Painted Prayerbook, there is is in your blogroll!

The Pollinatrix said...

This whole thing is unfolding very powerfully and strangely for me. I just got back from the Epiphany service at my church. I'm going to have to post about all this - I'm completely blown away. Almost speechless, at present. All I can say right now is,

The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not,
has not,
and cannot
overcome it.

Jennifer said...

Thank you Rebecca. The comment thread here is AMAZING today!

Roy said...

I felt like silence is my comment to your blog and just listen and savor this comment thread...