Friday, January 6, 2012

The Epiphany

When I was little, my Mom told me her little trick in remembering the importance of today’s date, January 6th. Not only was it her mother’s birthday but it is the traditional date of the Epiphany, the 12th Day of Christmas when the Three Wise Men came to visit the baby Jesus. “My Mom’s name is Stephanie. And Epiphany sounds like Stephanie so that helps me remember!”, she told me. It was an effective trick. I’ve never forgotten to observe this day since.

The word epiphany means "to show" or "to make known" or "to reveal." In churches, the Epiphany marks the Magi bringing gifts to Christ and in doing so, they reveal Jesus to all as Lord and King. When my children were younger, I would set the three king figures of our Nativity Scene, our Creche, away from the manger, having them approach closer and closer each day. When today arrived, they were “welcomed” into the manger where the figures of Mary and Joseph were with the baby Jesus. When I taught freshmen, I loved to utilize the O. Henry story, The Gift of the Magi, each holiday season. My teens loved the story but often many of them needed me to explain the reference to the three wise men in the tale’s title. I was always happy to give them that introduction.

But all lessons aside, the word epiphany is one of my favorite words. Beyond the Christian significance of the term, it is defined as “a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience”. I’ve experienced many such perceptions or insights over the years, and although it’s not my intention to speak to any in great detail today, I am thinking of a particular epiphany I had at Christmastime a few weeks back. Let me simply say today that my Christmastime epiphany was indeed a sudden and intuitive perception that was initiated by the simple selection of a word I chose to use in place of another. I called my annual Christmas Eve Buffet a “feast”, and I was miraculously transported to an emotional place I’d longed to be at for quite some time. Oh, this would make much more sense if I got into greater detail here, but I’m not prepared to do that right now. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

This January 6th date will always be special to me. I will forever think of my Mom and my Nana on this day. Perhaps together we are three women of wisdom who in our own time come to humbly bow before our precious Lord?

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