Chronicles in Ordinary Time 24: Epiphany



The Feast of the Epiphany…”epiphaneia, “manifestation”, “striking appearance” the visitation of the infant Jesus by the Magi from the East. Celebrated in Christendom on a variety of dates, depending upon one’s calendar and traditions. In my tradition, January 6th. Since I haven’t gone to bed yet, it’s still Epiphany in my time. In the Roman Catholic tradition, the end of Epiphany marks the beginning of Ordinary Time.

I’m not Catholic; however, my life appears to be taking place in Ordinary Time. The period before the Resurrection. The period of ‘hit the ball, drag Marty’. One of my favorite jokes, if you’ve ever heard it.

Melancholy tonight. I decided that this wouldn’t become a platform for my battles against depression; so that’s all I’ll say on that subject.

There was a murder in my dorm back in my college days; a girl I didn’t know, but it changed life in the dorm. For some people, the subsequent investigation and uproar probably changed their lives forever. The Creator was merely a concept in my mind at the time; my life as a part of other people’s lives was also a concept at that time. I remember how my innocent next door neighbor changed dramatically as he was being investigated as  a subject. It appeared that the police used his investigation to draw attention away from the search for the actual killer–a 16 year old Freshman who’d been rejected by the older girl.

Christmas was changed forever for hundreds of people this season. In a family that I consider part of my family, even though I’m not really in their thoughts, a death and a re-awakening of life happened in the last week or two. A murder and a life-saving transplant. Mass murders were happening all over the world in the weeks of this Christmas Season. The time before the Incarnation revisited. Some of the murders received more attention than others. All were losses.

The painting above is taken from a Norman Rockwell illustration. The right-hand portion is a copy of his painting, the left half my own. It started as a painted window–a Christmas gift for a former church congregation. It greets me each Sunday as I enter the church we attend now.

The Christmas Story has become so sanitized these days, that it would hardly be recognized by Mary and Joseph. In the days following the slaughter of all of the 2 years and younger children of Israel, by Herod the King, a young pregnant couple couldn’t find a room for the night. They were offered the barn. “Stable” sounds so much better than a barn. It’s possible that the mule ride and subsequent events that aren’t covered in Scripture caused the child to be born…

Farm animals aren’t housebroken. One must muck out the barn on a regular basis, replacing the crappy straw with clean straw. Scripture avoids the muck. Our pastor asked the children at the Christmas Eve service whether they had pets, and if their pet had a food dish. That was where the infant Jesus was placed after his birth. In the animals’ food dish–the Manger. Hardly an auspicious beginning.

The “Call the Midwife Holiday Special” was heart-rending in its images of the Nativity/the Incarnation. A young girl giving birth alone in an abandoned building… the playing of “Oh Come, Emanuel” as the nurse and nun peeled the clothes from an elderly woman and gave her her first bath in years. The Creator became human so that our grime could be washed away, and so that we could share that washing experience with others. Some of the murders of recent weeks, like those instigated by Herod, were also acts that were politically-based. What we refuse to learn we are destined to repeat…the murder of children continues.

We were given substantial monetary gifts this Christmas. Charity. Hard to swallow; hard to refuse. We shared some of the funds with others; the gifts of charity were increased. Paid medical bills with the rest.

Dan Fogelberg is one of my healing places when I’m melancholy. Tonight I am thankful for his creativity, a soundtrack to so much of my life; I’m sorry he left so soon. I believe he is still writing and that I’ll be able to hear him again. The “After” equivalent, that is. I believe that the Creator became human in order to lead us to where we will go. I believe music is somehow involved.

One of my favorite DF memories is a time in Newberg, working on the house of a young couple who needed to make it more weather-resistant before the Winter rains. My gift of a few days labor, with Dan keeping me company for much of that time. I remember going to sleep in my hammock, listening to his music. So much of my life is centered on construction; something I don’t appear to be able to do anymore…

I watched “The Vow” tonight. “Inspired by actual events,” a young woman suffers a massive brain injury in a car wreck on a snowy road. When she awakes from the induced coma, she no longer recognizes her husband of 3 or 4 years. Her brain is erased after an event that occurred 5 years in the past. Her husband is determined to win her love again; she is no longer the same young woman he married. She watches a video of their wedding, and her passionate marriage vow; to her, it’s someone else’s story. The ‘for better or worse’ vow is meaningless for her.
“It can all be gone in the twinkling of an eye… is that all there is? There must be something more than this… [All There Is–Dan Fogelberg]

Fortunately, there is more than this.

the universe in his hands_mer

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