Epiphanies open the possibility that we might change and the world might change, for they offer an opportunity to create new ways of living from our fragments of revelation. In the moment of illumination, our experience is enlarged, the boundaries of our lives made more permeable. Existence itself seems to hold more possibilities than we had imagined. But epiphanies are evanescent—they shine out, and then they recede. How can we hold onto the possibilities of change we glimpsed, in ourselves, in the world?
We need practices that keep us grounded in our epiphanies, even when the Magi have returned to their country and we to our daily lives. We need ways to extend our vision even when we are too busy to remember we’ve had one.
One way to do this is to make living in the afterglow of that vision a habit, a commitment. Benedictines do this when they choose to welcome every guest as Christ among them—a choice grounded, surely, in an epiphany, but a choice that can be made even when the light of illumination has dimmed. The story of La Befana illustrates this way of making an epiphany last. If she cannot go with the Magi to see the Christ Child, she will choose to find Christ in every child.
How will we choose to respond to the illumination of Epiphany, which passes so swiftly into memory? What commitments can we make to keep the Magi’s epiphany in view? Will we choose to see the Christ Child lying on the floor of a detention center, covered in a foil blanket? Will we choose to see the Holy Family separated and caged? And if we choose to see, what will we choose to do?
Peter Paul Rubens, Adoration of the Magi 1626-29. pic.twitter.com/L7YFwcUdZM
— Amy P💫 (@Amyperuana) July 29, 2015