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Posted on: January 7th, 2022

By Sr. Doreen, SSJD

Isaiah 60: 1-6 / Psalm 72: 1-14 / Ephesians 3: 1-12 / Matthew 2:1-12

Bishop William Cliff in the January Church Paper “The Mustard Seed” (Diocese of Brandon) wrote:  “Epiphany … God has whisked back the curtain on the mystery of the little one born to be light in the darkness and the people who walked in darkness have been invited into God’s inner circle to see a great light.  The nobodies of the world have been presented with the ultimate somebody.  These are all paradoxes: we are celebrating the birth in time of the timeless Son of God.  The Gentiles have come to worship a God they have not known and give gifts to the One who is gift-made-flesh.”

I found this helpful especially when pondering the dictionary meaning of the word ‘epiphany’ – a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way.  Today is a day in which we hear of and sing of stars and light.  Today we hear the story of an ancient search for insight, and you and I know that it is remarkable that today our own search for insight is as real, as resilient and as challenging.  We enter today into a season of Epiphany – a time when we are being challenged to extend our vision beyond any limitations we would place on it – to see the whole planet as the potential for what we have glimpsed in Jesus Christ.

As this year began the CBC news had an article called “Look Up” – encouraging us to go out into the darkness and see the amazing display of stars in the milky way – and to note the brightness of one of the stars. The article remarked on how important celebrating light as a sign of hope has been, and is, during this time of COVID.  It made me begin to think of the darkness and the stars and my own search for insight, my longing to see or understand in a new clearer way the wonder of the Light of the world – and of our being invited into God’s inner circle to see a great light.  As Macrina Wiederkehr put it : “Your glory streamed through our lives like stars the day you leaned from heaven  …  following the star we lean into your glory, in your light we see light.”

One of the thoughts of inspiration that came to me was remembering something I heard said when I was a Novice, a long time ago now, that scientists believed that we were made of stardust!  It has been mentioned and quoted by many people in books since that time.  I thought then, and still think today how wonderful it is to imagine that within me  dancing there is elements of a star that was once a brilliant glow in the sky.  Imagine – stardust dancing in me!  This thought has always drawn me to the night sky – to the darkness (both outside and inside myself) – the night sky and darkness are what make it possible for us to see the stars – to see the light. 

In the book “Horse Whisperer” by Nicholas Evans there is a lovely scene where Frank and Tom are sitting by the campfire with their father looking at the stars.  It was such a moment as one sometimes likes to hold on to, and Frank, the youngest son says, “If only you could make now last forever.”  They remained silent gazing at stars for awhile, pondering Frank’s expression of yearning.  After a time of silence the father replied: “I guess that’s all forever is.  Just one long trail of now’s.  And I guess all you can do is try to live one now at a time without getting too worked up about the last now or the next now.”

I found this a very moving and helpful meditation story.  So the stars seem to speak to me and I found myself praying – offer hospitality to each moment of your life and it will unfurl its gift of grace along your path in the shape of a long trail of now’s. 

Life is a whole string of now’s knit together with friendship and songs, heartaches and tears, fears and courage, passion and compassion, depression and elation, patience and impatience, and more.  So I determined for myself, don’t miss life.  Take up your life and walk, whether it’s happy or sad, angry or disappointing, ecstatic, hopeful, heart wrenching or tender.  You name it!  Just don’t miss it!  It is your gift to unwrap as you move along the path in your journey.  It is God offering hospitality to you as you move into tomorrow.

I would like to share with you two things that I found meaningful  and thought provoking:  one is a poem by Joan Rupp called “One Strong Star” and the other is a Hymn from one of our Hymn books here at the Convent called “Gather” that starts with the words “Star-Child”.  I found them full of gifts for reflection for the Feast of the Epiphany..

Joyce Rupp’s poem – “One Strong Star”

I stand gazing at the cold winter sky, thirty minutes after midnight on the first day of the new year
What I see catches my heart and draws me into profound hope.

There in the black winter sky one strong star sings a silent melody, illuminating the heavily clouded heights with a powerful, assuring presence.
I hear it calling to every human soul whose life yearns for something more.

One strong star sends a brave song to those who doubt their own courage.
It shines for the soreness of the planet and for all who die daily in their coffins of discouragement.

I stand gazing at that single star resonating with the shining message:
None of us need doubt our ability to survive.

Hope comes in little ways, it only takes one shining star:
One faithful friend, one wisp of inspiration, one  touch of creation’s beauty,
One deep sip of love to keep the illumination alive in us.

In the snow-laden clouds of that first day of the new year
I bow to the heavens and turn homeward, grateful for the quiet in my heart,
And for the singing of  a lone star sending strength to every corner of the cosmos.

Hymn 449 in “Gather”

Star-Child, earth-child, go between of God, love child, Christ Child, heaven’s lightening rod:
This year, this year let the day arrive when Christmas comes for everyone, everyone alive.

Street child, beat child, no place left to go, hurt child, used child no wants to know:
This year, this year let the day arrive when Christmas comes for everyone, everyone alive.

Grown child, old child, memory full of years, sad child, lost child story told in tears:
This year, this year let the day arrive when Christmas comes for everyone, everyone alive.

Spared child, spoiled child, having, wanting more, wise child, faith child knowing joy in store:
This year, this year let the day arrive when Christmas comes for everyone, everyone alive.

Hope-for-peace Child, God’s stupendous sign, down-to-earth Child, Star of stars that shine:
This year, this year let the day arrive when Christmas comes for everyone, everyone alive.

Today, it seems to me that God is whisking back the curtain on the mystery of the little one born to be the light in the darkness and we the people who walk in the darkness are invited into God’s inner circle to see a great light – and to recognize our splendor – and to show the whole planet the potential of what we have glimpsed.  Thanks be to God.