Epiphany: The Light Returns

Today is Epiphany, the day of the Holy Aha! The visit of the Wise Travelers to the Child of Light.

It’s the day my father-in-law died thirteen years ago, and so it has become a day when I remember his light.

And now, after last year, it’s become a day of political trauma in the US. I’ve felt a dread upon my shoulders in the past couple of days as this first anniversary of the insurrection at the capitol building approaches. Today, I will meditate on the image of Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman standing in a light-filled doorway, one man standing between the mob and the elected leaders of our country, making the courageous decision to put his own life on the line and lure the mob away from their target. There is light of deep courage that shines in the sea of ignorance and rage.

In the lore of Catholic Italy, the story goes that the wealthy magi passed through a town where an old woman, La Befana, was sweeping her house and her walks. The wise ones stopped to ask her if she knew where the Child of Light was to be found, but La Befana was too busy to answer or to bother herself. But as she heard the camels’ bells jingle as they turned the corner far away, she suddenly was filled with an aching desire to seek the Child of Light, but alas! By the time she reached the corner, they had disappeared. Since then, she flies on her broom through the skies, sweeping away the cobwebs, and puts candy into the shoes of good children on Epiphany as she seeks–all her life–for the Child of Light.

La Befana: Epiphany Witch
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

She’d got her eyes fixed
on what was right in front of her,
the dust and the dirt
and the everyday mess.

Wanted to be ready
for the coming of the child
but couldn’t see beyond
the day she was in.

Believe me, I know
what the old one
was up to–and I don’t
sweep and dust–
but I too get caught
by the fishhook of the present,
stuck in the nextness
of each task ahead,
forget to lift my eyes
to see the shine and sparkle
of my arriving guests,
can’t put down my broom,
my pen, my daily rhythm,
to look up and outward.

Like Old Befana, I catch, too late,
the jingle of the caravan bells
as they turn the corner in the distance,
see the disappearing cloud of dust.

Hastening to grab my cloak and bag,
I’ve lost their trail before I reach
the distant corner, left behind,
bereft, alone, dust-covered,
traveling bag in one hand
and broom in the other,
destined to spend my life
sweeping the skies,
chasing down the Holy Aha.


Gratitude List:
1. Democracy. The believe that all the people have a right to political agency in the right to vote.
2. The Story of La Befana and the longing for the Child of Light.
3. So many beautiful hearts in my life. So many lovely souls. Such tenderness. Such courage. Such compassion and winsomeness and good humor.”
4. The light shines in difficult places
5. The anticipation of having a new (to me) car. It might be something other than silver this time!
May we walk in Wisdom!


“Epiphany. The light floods in. The eyes open. And open again. See. See further. Aha!” —Moonbat, ‘14


“With an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things.” —William Wordsworth


“A Woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and only herself.” —Maya Angelou


“In such ugly times, the only true protest is beauty.” —Phil Ochs


“The sense-making in poetry is about getting behind the brain. A poem is a door. Sometimes poets make sturdy, locked, exclusive club doors that you can only enter if you are one of ‘us,’ or if you can speak (or pretend to know) the password. A really good and satisfying poem is an open and inviting doorway that frames the view in a particularly compelling way. ‘Look!’ it says. ‘Stand and stare. Take a deep breath. Then tell me what you see.’
“Good poetry, I think, holds a paradoxical perspective on language itself: it acknowledges the inadequacy of words to completely map an inner geography, and it also steps with reverence and awe into the sacred space that language creates between writer and reader. Words are both inadequate and holy.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider, 2014


“Where does despair fit in? Why is our pain for the world so important? Because these responses manifest our interconnectedness. Our feelings of social and planetary distress serve as a doorway to systemic social consciousness. To use another metaphor, they are like a ‘shadow limb.’ Just as an amputee continues to feel twinges in the severed limb, so in a sense do we experience, in anguish for homeless people or hunted whales, pain that belongs to a separated part of our body—a larger body than we thought we had, unbounded by our skin. Through the systemic currents of knowing that interweave our world, each of us can be the catalyst or ‘tipping point’ by which new forms of behavior can spread. There are as many different ways of being responsive as there are different gifts we possess. For some of us it can be through study or conversation, for others theater or public office, for still others civil disobedience and imprisonment. But the diversities of our gifts interweave richly when we recognize the larger web within which we act. We begin in this web and, at the same time, journey toward it. We are making it conscious.” —Joanna Macy


“In a time that would have us believe there is always more to strive for, more to accumulate, more enlightenment to reach – the most radical stance we can take is enoughness.
What if we quit trying to be spiritual and aspired to be human instead?
What if there is nothing to fix because we are already whole?
What if there was no time to prove ourselves, because we’re consumed with marveling at life?
What if there is no reason to hold back our gifts, because they are meant to be given?
What if every morsel, every glance, every moment and every breath is a miracle of enough?” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa


“It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.” ―Joseph Heller, Catch 22