Today is the Feast of the Epiphany. It commemorates, in Christian lore, the arrival of the Magi from Persia at Jesus' home in or near Bethlehem. He is usually thought to be two years old since, after the Wise men depart, a worried Herod orders the execution of all the male children in that area two years old or younger. (Which event is observed on the Feast of the Holy Innocents--December 28.)
So, just to be clear to all you creche owners and directors of Church School Christmas pageants, those three world traveler's shouldn't be there. They left Persia when they saw the star--it was a long way on camel back! But, never mind me, take center stage from the shepherds and throw Wise Men into the mix if you must....
But what fascinates me and causes me to ponder is the meaning of the word 'epiphany'--which comes from the Greek epi-phainein, which means 'to show'.
A definition I memorized years ago is this: "a sudden, intuitive insight into the deep-down meaning of things, usually caused by something simple, ordinary and day to day".
I don't know which part of the definition gives me more wonder and joy--the sudden and intuitive insight part, the deep-down mean of things part, or the simple, ordinary part.
Perhaps the best known 'epiphany' was when Archimedies (281-212 BC) watched the water rise in his bath when he got in and realized he could determine an object's density by putting it in water and see how much water it displaced. Legendarily, Archimedies ran through the streets naked, shouting, "Eureka, I have found it!"
That meets the test for sudden/intuitive and deep-down meaning and simple and ordinary.
Taking a bath might not have been a daily thing in 200 BC, but it was simple and ordinary.
My urging is for us all to keep our eyes open and our hearts and minds open and 'be with' what is ordinary and commonplace and simple. Be available for some insight you didn't expect or ask for. Long for 'the deep-down meaning of things'.
Epiphany for Christians is a season--from today until Ash Wednesday (which is Valentine's day this year--and, get this, Easter is April fools day). But I wish you epiphanies, not just for a season, but always.
Look around: the simple and ordinary have much to teach us and inspire us with....
"Insightful Epiphany!" to you....
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