Epiphany. The Magi. Astrologers from a faraway land, following the light of an unknown star, their intellectual and spiritual curiosity driving them on to find…what?
An enigma swaddled in a mystery.
A terrible beauty.
A piercing question.
A challenge so deep and rich and dangerous that they had to go home by a different way.
All right, you’ll tell me that Epiphany is over, that on the 12th day of Christmas you took down your tree, put away the decorations, changed the colors on the altar, liberated the partridge from the pear tree, and braced yourself for the New Year to come.
But you’d be wrong. Epiphany isn’t over. It’s only getting started. Like the Incarnation, it’s always beginning. New life, new challenge, new year, new path.
In our end is our beginning, T.S. Eliot wrote,
And what you thought you came for
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning
From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled
If at all. Either you had no purpose
Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured
And is altered in fulfillment.
We long for Epiphany, for awakening, for that starlit Eureka moment when the earth tilts on its axis and the light grows bright. Some days, even a small Epiphanette would do. What we forget is that Epiphany brings change. Radical change. Unexpected change. Sometimes unwelcome change.
The journey transforms us. The road keeps shifting. The way closes up behind us. We cannot return to who we were before the stars came out. We can’t go home the same way we arrived. Maybe we can’t go home at all.
The star-search leads us all
To unanticipated ends.
When our best understanding falters,
The stars hold no answers,
Only the question:
“Where are You?”
Where, in the blaze
Of a million suns
Lies that one candle?
Where is that single light,
The tiny, flickering wick
Whose fire alone
Can make our spirits burn?
The stars could lead us on
Looking for predictable places.
Or now, here,
Willing to lay down at last
The burden of our treasure,
We could kneel
©Penelope J. Stokes