As the new year continues to meet us, so does the season called Epiphanytide in the Christian tradition - the days following Epiphany - the celebration of the infant Christ revealed to the world. January 6th through the beginning of Lent comprise this period of the church calendar. The word Epiphany means manifestation, appearance, perception of the essential nature or meaning of something, or an intuitive grasp of reality through something usually simple and striking. We can open ourselves to both big and small epiphanies in our own lives and offer them to the Whole.
It is easy to get caught up in the news, in our own ways of thinking, in the fear so constantly present in the collective atmosphere. When instead we place our mind in the heart we may see all that is manifesting or appearing within and amongst us. During this Epiphanytide we may get glimpses of the essential nature or larger meaning of the circumstances of our current events. We may begin to see that we are not as divided as the news would like us to think we are, that there is just as much love, compassion, and care in the world as hate, fragmentation, and violence. We may begin to see that many people are choosing healing conversations and that new ideas and creative expressions are bursting forth in a variety of forms. We may begin to see the good, the true, and the beautiful amidst the fear, anger and cynicism. We may even participate in being the manifestation or appearance of them.
During this Epiphanytide it is time to look up from our electronic devices and re-engage the world at the level we can. To re-engage others and especially our planet. I recently revisited this quote from Cynthia Bourgeault which seems incredibly relevant to us now.
“We live in a world where fear and cynicism are running sky high, where traditional institutions of faith and culture are breaking down, and where our dislocation from nature and the natural rhythms of life leave our souls a little pent up and crazy. Suspicion and pessimism are pretty good defenses against a world gone mad. But the great spiritual teachings of the ages have suggested a radically counter-intuitive response. When this same question came up in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s great novel The Brothers Karamazov, the wise elder Fr. Zossima said in response, “Go help someone. Reach out to a brother or sister in need. Feed the hungry, heal the sick—(or at least, take on your small share of the task)—and then, only then, will you come to know that the world is trustworthy and God is real.” His point is tough, but true: First the eye of the heart must open, and only then will one see confirmation in the external world. As long as suspicion and pessimism are being projected, suspicion and pessimism are what the cosmos will confirm.
So how to break the vicious cycle? Fr. Zossima’s advice is still as true today as it was in his time: look for a chance to serve. . . it will soften your heart. Spend time in nature, in a playground with young children; sing!; read love poetry; hang out with the “good, the true and the beautiful,” however they speak to you. The problem is that we are starving—all of us, really—for the energy of beauty and goodness so long absent from our contemporary cultural experience. But we have to start making these energies ourselves—from within ourselves. That is not only an individual task; it is our collective human task and our planet will thank us for it.”
Making these energies, as well as many others, ourselves from within. . . this has been our work and continues to be so. Beauty, Goodness, Truth, Courage, Trust. . . these are needed right now. During this Epiphanytide let’s get to work with the Divine manifesting and appearing in and through each one of us.
Beauty, Goodness, Truth, Courage, and Trust within and upon us all,
Here most of the Readings from this week's pauses:
“One of the simple things that is very good and very positive about a New Year is the fact that one does have another chance, that there is available to the individual the fluid dimension of time that has not been frozen and has passed on into the past. It is liquid, living, vital, quick in the sense of being vital. The individual stands in the midst of a stream of vitality, awareness, and fluidity, and is able, by an act in the present moment, to do for him or for the context in which he is operating, some thing that nothing else in the world can do. Therefore when we think about the New Year, we think in terms of the sense of alternatives, the sense of option, that are still available to us. It means that all of the options are not frozen, that it is still possible to do some thing about a situation. Now, this is one of the very simple things.” — Howard Thurman “Heart’s Door” Ours is not the work of seeking You here or there or where we think You might be, but of opening the heart’s door, and when we do this You cannot resist coming in, since our opening and Your entering are one: You knock and wait, and when we open we find that You were there all along and will not leave us. — Meister Eckhart 'Wise Women Also Came' Wise women also came. The fire burned in their wombs long before they saw the flaming star in the sky. They walked in shadows, trusting the path would open under the light of the moon. Wise women also came, seeking no directions, no permission from any king. They came by their own authority, their own desire, their own longing. They came in quiet, spreading no rumors, sparking no fears to lead to innocents’ slaughter, to their sister Rachel’s inconsolable lamentations. Wise women also came, and they brought useful gifts: water for labor’s washing, fire for warm illumination, a blanket for swaddling. Wise women also came, at least three of them, holding Mary in the labor, crying out with her in the birth pangs, breathing ancient blessings into her ear. Wise women also came, and they went, as wise women always do, home a different way. —Jan Richardson 'For Those Who Have Far to Travel: An Epiphany Blessing' If you could see the journey whole, you might never undertake it, might never dare the first step that propels you from the place you have known toward the place you know not. Call it one of the mercies of the road: that we see it only by stages as it opens before us, as it comes into our keeping, step by single step. There is nothing for it but to go, and by our going take the vows the pilgrim takes: to be faithful to the next step; to rely on more than the map; to heed the signposts of intuition and dream; to follow the star that only you will recognize; to keep an open eye for the wonders that attend the path; to press on beyond distractions, beyond fatigue, beyond what would tempt you from the way. There are vows that only you will know: the secret promises for your particular path and the new ones you will need to make when the road is revealed by turns you could not have foreseen. Keep them, break them, make them again; each promise becomes part of the path, each choice creates the road that will take you to the place where at last you will kneel to offer the gift most needed— the gift that only you can give— before turning to go home by another way. — Jan Richardson “When we have a contemplative practice, it helps us to slow down and deepen our awareness so that more information arises in us. We can use that sensing to feel ourselves, and we can train the same sense to become aware of others in a deeper way. It could be said that 'wisdom' is a state of including more of the world in the way we live. To experience less separation or othering, and more inclusion of life. To have more of the world represented in us. That's how we can feel connected to our heart and more intimate with the world.” — Thomas Hubl