Monday, January 6, 2014

Encounters



Today is traditionally the feast of the Epiphany, although we celebrated it yesterday here in the United States. It was also the end of the Christmas season, since it is the day that we celebrate the wise men coming to visit Jesus.  According to Dictionary.com, epiphany means:
  1. a Christian festival, observed on January 6, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi; Twelfth-day.
  2. an appearance or manifestation, especially of a deity.
  3. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
While it is interesting that today is the 12th day of Christmas, I wanted to talk about the fact that an epiphany, more than anything, is an encounter with the Divine, much like the encounter the wise men had with Jesus.  It is a moment that changes us forever, and like the Gospel from yesterday so succinctly put it,
they departed for their country by another way.
We no longer go about business as usual after an epiphany, but we get a course correction, a new perspective, and return by another way. It is why epiphanies are so powerful--when we come in contact with the Divine, we can't help but be changed.  I am different from the person that began walking my Camino last August, and I imagine that I will be even more different when I begin walking again in 2016 at the age of 40. Even if I decide to walk the same route, it will be a different experience because I will be different, and God will give me different insights, just like He teaches me something new each year as we travel the liturgical calendar--seasons that are ever new, yet comfortingly familiar.

This is a statue of a pilgrim between O Cebreiro and Samos.
Just like this statue seems to lean into the wind as he keeps going, we all need to lean into our lives so that we can keep moving forward, and the moments of epiphany that we have help us to do just that. May all of us be more open to epiphanies and encounters in our lives as we travel through this new year.