Today is the feast of Epiphany in the Christian liturgical calendar—a day (or season, in some traditions) to mark the revelation of God and the manifestation of the Divine.
Epiphany marks the end of the twelve days of Christmas and is traditionally when we remember the visitation of the three wise men who were guided by a mysterious star to the Christ child. After this visitation, they encountered the Sacred in a dream which altered their path, encouraging them to return home by a different way.
Over the past few years as I’ve learned more about the liturgical seasons and feast days, I’ve been especially intrigued by the feast of Epiphany. I feel like it’s a little gem—an appropriate bookend to the Christmas season and a meaningful way to begin the new year. The word epiphany, from the Greek word epiphaneia, literally means “reveal,” and by definition marries the Sacred with the secular—”a manifestation of the Divine” with “a moment of sudden insight or revelation.”
What I love most about the liturgical calendar is its invitation for our everyday lives. Today, on the feast of Epiphany, we are not only invited to remember the wise men who visited the Christ child so long ago. We are also invited to contemplate the manifestations of the Divine within our own lives—our own places of Sacred Encounter—as well as celebrate our sixth sense of intuition, active in such moments of sudden insight or revelation and sourced from our Inner Witness, the place where the True Self and Divine meet.
After awaiting the Incarnation during the weeks of Advent and celebrating “God with us” during the twelve days of Christmas, Epiphany invites us to participate in the mystery of Divine revelation and celebrate that Sacred Light that guides us from within—both two thousand years before us and in the days, years, and centuries to come. What better time to open ourselves up to the mysteries and revelations of the year ahead?
While ceasing and feasting during the Christmas season, I took some time to reflect on the year that had passed and contemplate the year ahead—a spiritual practice that has become one of my favorite traditions over the past few years. For the second year in a row I was guided by Christine Valters Paintner’s annual “Give Me a Word” series, and as I crossed the threshold from 2014 to 2015, I paid holy attention for an epiphany—a Divine revelation in the form of a word that would inform my journey in the year ahead.
Christine describes this process as similar to the practice of lectio divina, in which we open ourselves up to the presence of God (traditionally while reading a Sacred text) and wait to see what, in her own words, “shimmers.” Last year the word (or phrase) that “shimmered” for me was sink in. It foretold of many desires to be met and many lessons to be learned—areas of growth that no doubt continue into the new year.
My word for this year? Release.
It arrived in early 2015 in the true form of an epiphany—a moment of sudden insight or revelation—and as I’ve held that word in prayer and contemplation over the past few days it’s continued to “shimmer.” I couldn’t imagine a better word for the year ahead. The invitation to release is both a gift and a challenge, which seems to me a good indication that it is indeed an invitation from the Divine—one who seeks to both bless us and guide us on the ever-evolving path of transformation.
In the spirit of Epiphany, I’ll be holding this word close to my heart as 2015 unfolds, following it like the shimmering star that guided the wise men long ago as it leads me on my own mysterious and revelatory journey toward the Divine.
What’s your word for 2015? Any resolutions that will impact your journey? Share your response to the questions or the post in the comments.
PS: Today marks the first anniversary of my book, Pilgrim Principles: Journeying with Intention in Everyday Life! Help me celebrate by passing it on to someone you think might enjoy it. Send them here »
PPS: Tomorrow (1/7) is the last day to receive $10 off when you register for my “Pilgrim Principles” course at The Center at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Seattle, WA. I’d love to have you join me! Learn more and register »