The eve of the feast of the Epiphany is a magical and mystical time not to be wasted by the speed of life. It is winter and the light is that of eternity; colorful, sparing, meted out with a scarcity which inclines us to take more notice. Epiphany is a season of light and darkness, each defining the other the way sin and peace define, or faith and uncertainty.
What was it like, that night when the three kings, the shepherds, so many wanderers followed that star? What does it mean for us to follow a star to the Prince of Peace?
The images I will be using in Epiphany will be photos I have taken in which light is the diva on the stage of spirituality, taking a low, graceful, feminine bow. Many images are photos I have taken at BRILLIANT, the gem exhibition at the Museum of Fine Art in Denver. Gems are too quickly associated with wealth and privilege which sours us on them. But in the end, as my geologist friend Rick says, “they are just rocks whose beauty can be seen for having cut into them.” And I find that in life, that people’s beauty is most stunning when they have been cut open. And believe me… I say that on my knees… with my head bowed low, given the pain that life’s cutting brings to us. We are gorgeous once our hearts have been broken so that the light can emerge, but the breaking is often so painful as to make one go weak in the knees.
I love the colors of this stone, the central diamond of a diadem from some aristocrat, now dust like the rest of us will be. Only her diamond and her kindnesses (if there were any, and there always are) are left to live on this planet, this massive rock of rocks.
A night-star caught their attention that night in the desert. It must have been brilliant. It must have been bright enough to seem worthy of a pilgrimage. The art of Epiphany is to keep a practice which helps us to see the stars in our lives which lead us to The Prince of Peace. For me, the diadem of my life are my friends. They sparkle. They glimmer. If I have a crown, they are its diamonds. In their faces I see Jesus reflected and refracted. Hugging them I feel Christ enfleshed. Loving them and being loved by them I love and am loved by Christ. Kissing them, I know Christ. Since the accident, I miss being able to smell them when I hug them. The loss is incalculable to me, like a diamond in a slightly, needlessly dimmed room.
The Eucharist shimmers too and in it I find Christ and light. And in music. And in silence. And in Kai’s black eyes which seem hard-wired to interplanetary and timeless kindness. And in the shimmer of almond butter toffee with wine.
Where do you see this kind of light? Take a moment on this eve of The Epiphany to assess where there are glimpses of uncreated light for you. The eve of a feast, its “first evensong” is a pregnant vestibule.
People, experiences, situations, smells, tastes, sounds. Where does life shimmer in such a way that you are reminded that, in fact, no….this is not a massive accident. No. This is hard at times, yes, but the act of cutting a diamond can seem violent were the Craftsman not so skilled, so determined to bring brilliance out of rock and rubble. God, the show-off, making beauty recklessly, everywhere. Where are the stars in your life which guide you through the desserts to the stable where lays the infant who is God made manifest, so that darkness is not dark and night is as bright as the day.