Gifts of the Epiphany

This week we celebrate the Feast of Epiphany, when the Oriental nobles circumnavigated Herod’s schemes and followed the star to the Infant King, and bestowing upon him the unlikeliest of baby gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Although his parents must have scratched their heads as they gazed upon the treasure, within days the sense of it crystallized as they hurriedly loaded their donkey and fled, the wails of their neighbors rending the air as the Holy Family passed the city gates.

The presence of the Gentile kings in the life of Christ was an indication that the Messiah had come from the Jews, but not for them alone. God’s covenant … His generosity … His compassion stretches wider, deeper, more complete and more profound than the human mind can conceive.

What unexpected gifts has God sent your way this year? What unlikely gift — what relationship, personal challenge, or detour — has come your way that you have yet to put in proper perspective?

Just wait … your epiphany is coming soon.

Monday Epiphanies

Last night was an annual Christmas program/benefit concert at our parish, to benefit the St. Louis Center, a group home for developmentally disabled adults.  It was a real family affair: Craig sang in the choir, Chris and Sarah sang in the children’s choir (necessitating FOUR costume changes in that 80 minute span), and I wrote a little poem for the occasion (a link to it is in the sidebar).

To be honest, the whole thing was a family affair in other ways as well. As the priest observed in the homily that morning, “You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family. You don’t get to pick your biological family, and you can’t pick your spiritual one, either.”

So true. To be part of the Church is to have to deal with individuals who are not exactly fun to be around all the time. They can be territorial or wishy-washy, unreasonable or rigid. Straight-shooters get irritated with the passive-aggressives. “Traditionals” get miffed with the “touchy-feelies.” And then there’s the whole issue of music: Gregorian chant, Twila Paris, and everything in between.

Last night’s pageant was a good example of the best and worst of parish life:  The program was changed over and over, even at the dress rehearsal.  The director complained at having so much to do on one hand … and rejected our efforts when we pitched in to help. Best of all, the program was scheduled on the final day of Christmas break, to begin after most kids should have been in bed, getting a good night’s rest before school the next day.   

Ah, yes. Family.

And yet, there are great joys as well. Four costume changes in eighty minutes … but Sarah was the epitome of saucy in her little French beret, and Christopher stole the show as he stood front and center in his jacket and ascot (this was for the “British” scene), spread his feet, stuffed his hands in his pockets, and threw back his head to belt out “Joy to the World” at the top of his lungs.  

I got stomach flu two days before the performance, and didn’t think I should attempt to bake a “Japanese Christmas cake” and spread my contagion to the entire parish, so I did the unthinkable … called a bakery. Turned out the baker knew how to make a Chinese New Year’s cake, complete with strawberry filling and gold coins, and “Happy New Years!” written in Mandarin in scarlet red butter cream. Better than I could have done any day of the week, and all I had to do was let go and DELEGATE! (Okay, and write a check, but I was going to do that for the benefit anyway…)

Craig had an epiphany as well: Torn between an impossible work deadline and singing in the choir, he chose … to go ahead and sing in the concert. “I’ve been practicing for three months for this thing. Work could wait an hour!” I was never so proud of him.

The Wise Men had to wander across deserts and down winding back paths to locate the Prize they had been seeking all their lives. They expected royalty … and got a stable. They sought a king … and found an anonymous family who took their gifts and vanished into the night. As we disassemble the tree and get ready to put the creche back in the box, let’s take our cue from the Magi, and be willing to wander down a few unexpected pathways in order to find the Truth our soul craves.

Happy New Year!

Mighty Mom Monday: Happy Trails…. and Happy Epiphany

wisemenAs we head resolutely into the New Year, tromping across the days like the Wise Men who traversed the desert in search of the Infant King, I’d like to take a moment to thank Sarah (A.K.A. “Mighty Mom”) for all her hard work this past year, bringing glimpses of humor and revelry to our lives. Unfortunately Sarah will be unable to continue her regular column here in 2009 … So please join me in thanking her for a job well done!  And if you’d like to see what Sunshine and company are up to this week, be sure to head on over to Sarah’s blog.

I’m writing this a bit ahead of schedule — Dec 30. Last night Sarah wanted to know if Christmas vacation was over yet. “No, we have another week together!” I told her.

Another week to wake up to three small bodies bouncing on the bed (the furry one lounged across my face), chanting, “Can we watch cartoons and eat HONEY NUTS?!” (Oh, sure. Just what you need. More sugar and stimulation.)

Another week to step on the collective refuse of half a dozen art kits, four new family games, and assorted squeeky toys as I stumble toward the teapot.

Another week of four eyeballs cast longingly toward the blank television screen (by some act of God, our two television sets BOTH gave up the ghost this past weekend), wondering aloud when they would get to watch Tom and Jerry. Ever. Again.

Another week to get the cards in the mail that were ready to post (well, most of them) well before Christmas but somehow got lost in the present wrapping bag. 

One more week of Sarah digging deep into the recesses of the makeup kit her auntie gave her and emerging from her room clad in seven strategically draped scarves and a trowel full of rainbow colors smeared across her fresh little face.

One more week of finding Christopher sequestered in his room, snatching moments of sheer electronic bliss with his brand new Pokemon DS (thanks to the same aunt who supplied the makeup kit).

One more week to consume the six dozen Christmas cookies still left from Advent. (Note to self: Either get more generous with the gift boxes, or cut baking sessions in half.)

One more week to pray for good weather, so that NEXT week we don’t get snowed in, too. Please, Lord, let the “holiday party” proceed as planned — a mere 2-1/2 weeks after the original event.

Happy Epiphany to you and yours!