The lights of the Christmas season have been extinguished. The Feast Day celebration of the Epiphany has concluded. As for following the “star of wonder,” it too has continued on its journey, passing me by. As I let go of this sacred story for another year, I felt like both my neighborhood and the world was descending into more darkness.
Letting go of the Christmas season has been hard for me this year. As I have been recovering from foot surgery, I am still confined to the house, unable to walk outdoors or to drive to visit my grandsons. The decorations and lights of Christmas provided me with “tidings of comfort and joy” and honestly, distraction from what is reality. Hard as it was, this past weekend I decided it was time to put away Christmas. I hoped that the ritual of boxing it all up would somehow move me along emotionally. And yet I fell into more sadness as I was reminded of a few lines from W. H. Auden’s poem, For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorial.
Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes. Some have got broken…
But, for the time being, here we all are. In the meantime. There are bills to be paid, machines to keep in repair, irregular verbs to learn; the Time Being to redeem from insignificance. The happy morning is over.
The happy morning is over. After boxing up Christmas and Epiphany, yes, I felt like that. But rather than deny it, I sat with that phrase for some time. The next morning, unable to sleep, I arose at 5:00 a.m. and waited and watched for the dayspring, the first light of dawn to appear. It did and in fact, it was a happy morning! I remembered, I saw, I felt that there is always the Good News!
In the season of Epiphany, the “Time Being” has been redeemed from insignificance! The Christian Church proclaims that the manifestation of God in Jesus came, has come, and will come again. A new light is present in the world. There is another star for us to follow. The happy morning is just beginning.
Epiphany is the season of more daylight. I look forward to these longer days and shorter nights. But in the midst of winter, I do not follow the star of Bethlehem. Instead, I look each day for the daystar to appear. How faithful our sun is in making its journey north again!
I am not a sun worshipper but I am a sun appreciator. It serves as a wonderful metaphor for the light of Christ coming into the world, every day, in every human heart. Yes, the light might be burning low or buried deep within the angry, grieving and wounded hearts of some, but the divine spark is there waiting in all hearts to be uncovered and revealed.
The gift of Christmas is to receive the light of Christ. The gift of Epiphany is to manifest or reveal that light, Christ’s light, to others. Today I found myself returning to a favorite hymn text written by Charles Wesley. It has become a part of my morning meditation.
Christ, whose glory fills the skies,
Christ the true, the only Light,
Sun of Righteousness, arise,
Triumph o’er the shades of night;
Dayspring from on high, be near;
Daystar, in my heart appear.
Dark and cheerless is the morn
Unaccompanied by Thee;
Joyless is the day’s return
Till Thy mercy’s beams I see;
Till they inward light impart,
Glad my eyes and warm my heart.
Visit, then, this soul of mine;
Pierce the gloom of sin and grief;
Fill me, Radiancy Divine;
Scatter all my unbelief;
More and more Thyself display,
Shining to the perfect day.
Charles Wesley, 1740
This text is an invitation for us to look for the moments of joy and gladness in each day. On cloudy days, when the sun is hidden, I know it is there. As with the sun, so it is with the Spirit of Christ. Trust, as I have discovered, is simply knowing that even though I do not see the sun nor Christ, they are both present. My sacred duty this year is to see Christ manifest in myself, in other human beings, in creation; and to manifest Christ to the world.
It sounds simple but for me it is not always easy. On some days I have to dive more deeply into my heart, my soul space to experience “radiancy divine.” My daily mantra or breath prayer is “Presence, I am present.”
Does praying it make it so? Not from a divine point of view, but from my human point of view, yes indeed. Becoming aware of God’s often unseen presence is as the Buddhist, Thich Nhat Hahn, has said “not a matter of faith but a matter of practice.”
By practicing, I mean praying– in the light and in the dark, in times of joy and in time of grief, in times of faith and in time of fear, in times of love and in time of anger. That IS how we to stay connected to Christ. I am grateful that I heard the call to return to praying Charles Wesley’s hymn text for the rest of the season. Christ’s glory does indeed fill the skies and “warm our hearts” when we are open.
This season I am also focusing on one line that Marianne Williamson wrote in her poem called, “A Return to Joy.” It is, “We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.” I pray that Christ’s glory will be revealed to you this holy season and that “warming your hearts” you too will manifest Christ’s Good News to others. May it be so. Amen.
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