Today is Epiphany, the day when the Church remembers and celebrates the arrival of the wise ones who have been following the Light in the shape of a Star in the East and now have stopped over that place where the Child was. I do not envy them the journey over miles and years, but I do envy the vision and clarity of the Star that took them right to the place where their hearts longed to be.
In reading one of my gifts from Christmas, Alexander McCall Smith’s The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine, I saw myself reflected in Mma Precious Ramotswe’s self-reflection after her colleague suggests she might want a holiday:
Mma Ramotswe looked down at her hands, folded passively on her lap. Was she getting stale? She looked at her shoes. at her faithful brown shoes with their broad soles and their flat heels. Were these the shoes of a stale person? (21)
My shoes are not broad, brown and flat, but I am wondering if parts of me are stale. I do know that when I have been musing on this part of the Christmas season, my heart is lightened when I think of this part of the ancient story of Epiphany, of wisdom meeting new life, of coming into new territory, of being filled with joy. And I have a longing for some of that lightness.
I didn’t make New Year’s resolutions this year, I usually don’t. However, I did find myself praying for Light and Hope, but the prayers were nestled in vows I took long ago when I was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament. In those vows I promised each time I recited them at each new call, that I would seek to serve the people with energy, intelligence, imagination and love. So my prayer this year has become that I will encounter the Star of Light that will burnish my energy, intelligence, imagination and love, so that they more shine more brightly in me and through me to the people I am given to care for. I am aware that after thirty years, each of those intentions might have become stale–or maybe are just in need of re-calibration after an encounter with the Holy One.
In this decade of my life my energy is not the same as when it needed to meet the requirements of the rhythms of life that tried to balance my calling at church or seminary, commuting, raising children, caring for aging parents and keeping loving alive. My brain does not retain new information, nor does it remember familiar facts with the facility it once did. In some ways my imagination is more lithe and fantastic than it used to be, now that I put it to use only with taking flight with grand-children or hoping for outcomes not constricted by by-laws; that one glistens more brightly. And there is love! Always the Word–the greatest of these, always coming to me from Grace. But in some places and times it has felt more taxing. Weariness in well-doing has tarnished some of that first love; or that sense that one has lived long enough to say with the Preacher in Ecclesiastes, “there is nothing new under the sun,” and it seems that no new thing to savor, to take delight in, no new face to enchant with affection.
And so my prayer on this Epiphany is that the Star will shine in me, for me and through me:
Star of Wonder, shine on and energize my body and spirit so that I can make the treks over mountains and deserts to offer who I am to those who are ready to receive me.
Star of Beauty Bright, enliven my synapses and retrieve my skill sets, so that I can continue to bring ideas and strategies to the tables of conversation and cooperation in the things that make for peace.
Star of Night, shine through my dreams so that my imagination will be further illuminated with things that my eyes have not yet seen or my ears have not heard, but that add beauty and grace to the world around me.
Star of my Heart, keep the fires of Love burning, stoked and warm, brilliant and comforting, as long as my heart will beat.
In the name of that Bright and Morning Star, Amen.
Personal photo from Dale Chihuly Center, St. Petersburg, FL.