Epiphany is a Greek word meaning “appearance” or “manifestation” and in Christian circles it is used in recounting of the story of the Magi’s visit to Bethlehem. We loved that story when we were children – most of all, I would guess, if one happened to be a boy who had a great costume in the Christmas play, that of a king “from the East.” The real event was more complicated than just their arrival, which happened significantly later than the date of Christmas and caused a massacre of boys under two years old.
There were no television cameras to announce these visitors. As is frequent in Scripture, the details surrounding this event are few. What we can extrapolate from the story is that these men were attentive to a “message in the stars” as well as to their dreams which told them to avoid Herod as they were leaving. There is a component of intuition and trust necessary for such an “epiphany.” One has to be listening deeply not to miss the signals. Isaiah the prophet gave a hint long before the Magi began their trek. ” Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow…” (1 Is 60: 1-6)
Have you ever had an “epiphany” in your life? It’s not always a religious experience. I remember a day in my college days when my philosophy professor failed to help me understand something important and suddenly one of my study partners said it in a way that illuminated it perfectly – clearly an epiphany! But how much more meaningful are the days when something touches us in a way that manifests God’s love – like a flash of light or a kiss directly to our heart! We can’t force an epiphany but we can make ourselves ready. Stay awake. Practice silence. Be kind. And once in awhile, at least, look up at the stars.