From the desk of...

Epiphany…

Epiphany: n. a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way… (Merriam-Webster)
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(Photo by G.Junior – our Christmas tree through his kaleidoscope…)
We have come to the end of our traditional Christmas celebrations, and as always I am sad to see the end of it all…
Christmas can’t be over, however, without the final piece of the story and so today we have the final moment: the Feast of the Epiphany. The three kings, the wise travelers, arrived (after their long searching journey) in Bethlehem to see the tiny child and bestow their gifts…
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“…and being warned by God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.” (Matthew 2:12)
This is one of my favourite parts of the whole story, because even though it is the end it is really an amazingly new beginning; these men, who had probably read every book that existed in the world at that time, who had invested in their learning and their minds, had no choice but to go home another way. They could never go home the same because their journey and discovery of a tiny little baby had changed them so completely… they were not the same.
Their “epiphany” had made them different – any way they went from that moment would be different too… Beginning to see the light…
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And so we are all different – we have changed. We have lived through another year, we have learned something about the world and something about ourselves. We have struggled, triumphed, celebrated, consoled, searched for meaning and maybe even found it. Our lives have been marked by the events of daily life over time, and in some cases one moment, simple and striking, defines the way our perception has shifted. It is in these moments – these epiphanies – that we find the illumination to find our way through the journey ahead…
The Christmas season may be ending, but it is really the beginning of something new. It is our challenge to let the light of Christmas shine on as we forge ahead.
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There is so much work to be done, but we have been changed by our experiences and we can bring that energy forward to go about things a different way
“Remember your epiphanies on green oval leaves, deeply deep,copies to be sent if you died to all the great libraries of the world, including Alexandria?” (James Joyce, Ulysses)
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From the desk of...

Advent… (Peace)

Another week closer to winter, and another week closer to Christmas. This second week of advent is so much busier than the first: presents to buy and wrap, cards to mail, groceries to get and long lines to stand in… Energy levels drop and anxiety levels rise.  We are  cranky with each other.  Yesterday was a tough day around here, and the strain was beginning to show.  One of my favourite people sent me this quote today:

“Nobody can live for any length of time within a family or a community without hurting others and without getting hurt.  The challenge is to have the resiliency to live with that. (St. Therese of Lisieux)

It seems fitting that the virtue for this week should be peace.

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I have written about peace before – recently at Remembrance Day, and some time ago as part of a complicated evolution of childhood memory into adult understanding- but mostly I am no closer to unlocking the secrets of peace…

There is so much fear/anger/hatred/sadness in the world. How do we make sense of being peaceful people in the face of real unrest? How do we manage to become not just peace keepers, but peace makers?

Above my desk I keep Max Ehrman’s “Desiderata” – I have quoted from it here before, and have many childhood memories of my mother quoting it to me – and in the very beginning there is this line:

“Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.”

Is that the answer? Do we need to find a moment of silence to feel the peace that is waiting for us? How can we afford a moment of silence when there is so much to be done?

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For the first time this year my children and I have started a new tradition of decorating the bare branches of our beloved maple trees.  It has been quite funny because our late fall weather has brought us some blustery gusty winds and each morning we find the ornaments blown around on the front lawn.  This week it has been our habit to spend five minutes before we leave for the day gathering up the ornaments and reattaching them to the branches.  It’s not quite silent but it’s quiet enough that we can hear the birds chirping in the trees as they go about their own morning chores. This morning, in that moment of almost-silence I had a tiny little epiphany…

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Before I can make peace in the world with anyone else I need to find my own peaceful place…I need to make peace with myself.

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Such a tiny little moment in a kinetic whirlwind of a week, and the act of standing in my own soggy front yard, surrounded by wind storm debris and listening to the birds and my children playing, I felt just a little bit more at peace with myself and just a little bit more alive.  For today, that is just what I needed.

“The important thing is to somehow begin.” (Henry Moore)

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