Our youngest son was born on Epiphany in 2005. He was induced, so we knew what his birth date would be. As we dressed to leave for the hospital that morning, my husband sat on the edge of our bed, re-reading the definition of epiphany. Since then, we often talk about how our youngest son is, indeed, a “sudden, striking realization.” At the same time, he’s an epiphany we had 40 weeks to anticipate and look forward to – which is so much more my speed than anything sudden or striking.
A few years ago, while preparing for a post-Christmas sermon, I was reminded of how long it took the wise men to travel from their country to Bethlehem. I became focused on the metaphor that could provide for many a faith journey – a slow, extended, yet deliberate approach to welcoming Jesus. For someone whose faith has had its share of missed turns, misread maps, and the need for roadside assistance, it’s much less intimidating to pull up my socks and try again when I think about a long journey toward Christ, rather than one shot on Christmas Day.
So now only Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and the stable animals return to the attic after Christmas. I leave our three wise men out year-round – a reminder that, although I’m not there yet, I am always traveling toward my epiphanies. Bonus: because these wise men are from the nativity scene my parents had when I was a child, the metaphor on my mantle covers both my faith journey and my physical journey. So much ground covered in my 44 years; so much still to look forward to.
I’ll admit it: every now and then it would be nice to have a giant star or an angel confirming I’m moving in the right direction, but most days the promise of an epiphany is enough.