Epiphany


This is a poem from Daniel Berrigan’s Time Without Number (from An Almanac for the Soul):

They set out in bright approving summer:
flags, gold, imagination attending
down charted roads, the star like a sun of night,
and at earth’s end, the unique King awaiting.

Autumn too was lovely and novel:  weather temperate
and the star mellowing slowly as a moon.
Then winter on them:  the light snuffed out:
hearsay, frontiers, men inimical to dreamers —
and what direction in iron snow? — a hind’s track
diminished in ivory, a white birch stricken to ground
and the sky tolling its grey dispassionate bell
upon age, upon infinite heart’s weariness.

So the great came, great only in need,
to the roof of thatch, the child at knee awaiting.

[To order An Almanac for the Soul contact the Iona Center, P.O. Box 1528, Healdsburg CA 95448; ionacenter@comcast.net; or 707.431.7426]

I continue to find Sam Portaro’s “Brightest and Best” a wonderfully insightful and challenging book about our saints and seasons in the Episcopal Church.  This morning, I read his thoughts on The Epiphany of Our Lord (which is tomorrow).  He starts by noting that the number of the “kings” is three by tradition (probably because the “kings” brought three gifts), but that we don’t really know their number — it is never given to us.  And he continues by noting that the term “magus” was “often a contemptuous name for itinerant magicians and entertainers.”  We like the idea that the wise and mighty (“kings”) of the world recognized Jesus.  But they could just as easily have been “a troupe of wandering artists whose whim to follow a star brings them to the cradle of Jesus.”  And he talks about the “exotic, mysterious, and wonderful” possibility that “some simple and foolish people, drawn to the side of the manger, might surrender everything to the unknown child therein.” (more…)

Most people don’t know this, but technically, in the Episcopal Church Calendar (and, I’m pretty sure, other liturgical calendars),  Christmas Day is not as major a festival as the Day of Epiphany — which many people have probably never heard of.  I might never have heard of it, if it weren’t for my father, who grew up in the Philippines.  At least, not before I became a priest.

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