Christmas. Has it really already come and gone? Again? How can that be? And tomorrow my children return to their classes after a great vacation. We make the most of our vacation time around here let me tell you! Sleeping in…doing a lot of nothing except for all of stuff we don’t usually do like go to lots of movies, go to the mall and shop, play laser tag, eat out A LOT… Oh, and did I mention all of the Holiday Food consumed at ONLY this time of year? I am the CHEX MIX and Peanut Butter Ball QUEEN. ROYAL- TEE I tell you! Due to my darn ADHD and everybody’s vying for my time and attention, I may burn just about everything else I bake…but CHEX MIX cooking at 250 degrees is almost idiot proof…and peanut butter balls are not cooked! So we are good. Yes, it is all good. Too good. If you don’t believe me ask the scale!
But this isn’t just the final day of a vacation where I got next to nothing important done and from which I need a REAL vacation (like to a tropical paradise…hint,hint, husband of mine). No. THIS, my friends, is January 6th. What is so special about January 6th you say? Well, I wouldn’t have known either had my sister not mentioned a few days ago that she planned to leave her Christmas decorations up until EPIPHANY. She is and always has been really big on “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. In fact, as kids and until I just couldn’t take singing the darned song ANY MORE, she always insisted on being “Five Golden Rings…BUH BUH BUH BUH BUMP”. But really,what is EPIPHANY? You may be appalled at my ignorance. Am I not a Christian girl? Well, yes indeed I am…but I am not Catholic or Anglican or Greek Orthodox and I only went to an Episcopal Church for a while and I never converted from my Methodist upbringing. So, as a good Protestant (you know… the simple Christian religion…without bells or whistles or priests or incense…without much knowledge of ritual or feast days or how Easter Day can be in March or the end of April…the one where grape juice is plenty sufficient to stand in for Jesus’ blood during the monthly communion). I was not raised with much made about Ash Wednesday or Epiphany or Pentecost. But all of that IS important. Those are significant days if nothing more than for commemoration. There is a lot that I did not know that is important…just as there is a lot I still don’t know that I hope to learn. That is one of my resolutions too – to do or learn something new every day.I may be an old dog, but I can still be taught new tricks. Just three years ago I had no idea how to use a “smart phone” or “copy and paste” or open a tab or scan a document… or blog…or a lot of things! Crazy, right? It is never to late to do something or learn something – not until we are brain-dead or dead dead.
Do you take your New Years Resolutions seriously? Do you make commitments that you can actually keep? I made my resolutions on New Years Day…and so far I have succeeded beautifully… in two. And gladly it was the first two I listed – and far and away the most important ones I think – spend “TIME WITH GOD” and do or learn something new every day.
I have spent time with God every day and learned something new now for almost a week. The first few days were easy because I was reading the book by Anne Lamott. She is a very unconventional writer who is terribly irreverent at times but who makes me nod my head in agreement at 92.7% of the things that she says despite myself. In fact, she and I seem to have gone to the very same “school” of theology…only my background before hand was full of church and Bible verses and FCA camp and Student Venture and Campus Crusade for Christ…and she was raised by atheists. Amazingly we think the same. I think that says something for both of us actually. And A LOT for God!
I want to give you a little taste, a sampler platter, of the things that Anne Lamott says that I particularly agree with…just a taste because I could write a good portion of the book easily.
Before the book even begins, in the section called “PRELUDE Prayer 101” Anne Lamott says the following about Prayer: “It’s not for display purposes, like plastic sushi or neon. Prayer is private, even when we pray with others. It is communication from the heart to that which surpasses understanding…what the Greeks called the Really Real…it is a cry from deep within to Life or Love, with capital L’s”
“Prayer can be motion and stillness and energy all at the same time. It begins with stopping in our tracks, or with our backs against the wall, or when we are going under the waves, or when we are just so sick and tired of being psychically sick and tired that we surrender…Or maybe, miraculously, we just release our grip slightly.”
“So prayer is our sometimes real selves trying to communicate with the Real, with Truth, with the Light…Light reveals us to ourselves, which is not always so great if you find yourself in a big disgusting mess, possibly of your own creation.”
“My three prayers are variations on Help, Thanks, Wow. That’s all I ever need, besides the silence, the pain, and the pause sufficient for me to stop, close my eyes, and turn inward.”
I will give a few of my favorite quotes in each of the sections of this book later in the week, but this is Epiphany! Wow. That is so cool because I didn’t know what it was or what it meant until I looked it up today, and this is what it says: it is from the Greek words ephiphaneia meaning “appearance, manifestation” or ephiphainein “to manifest” or phainein “to show”. “1: January 6 observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi (wise men) as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles or in the Eastern Church in commemoration of the baptism of Christ 2:an appearance or manifestation esp. of a divine being 3 a: sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something : an intuitive grasp of reality through something …”
Another source explains it: “The Epiphany celebration remembers the three miracles that manifest the divinity of Christ. Epiphany comes from the Greek word ephipania and means “to show, make known or reveal”. Magi, the baptism of Jesus and the wedding at Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle and turned water into wine reveal Jesus as Christ and Lord and King. As members of the church, Epiphany “represents a responsibility to reveal Jesus as the Divine Son and Savior sent by God the Father to atone for the sins of mankind. Epiphany is a time of healing and fellowship, where the church comes together to love one another as Christ commanded.”
The feast day of Epiphany celebrates “The shining forth and revelation of Jesus Christ as the Messiah and 2nd person of the Trinity…the manifestation of God in the form of human flesh through Jesus Christ, his Son.”
When I was a child…really up until I was about twenty, I would say that the majority of my prayers were “Thanks!” and “Wow!” with a few “Help”.
When I was twenty until I was forty, I would say that the majority of my prayers were “Help!”
“Thanks!” and “Wow!” moments mostly had to do with the birth and growth of my children.
Now, happily, I am back to almost exclusive prayers of “Thanks!!!!!!” and “Wow!!!!!” and most of my “Help!!!!” prayers have to do with intercession for the sake of others.
How is that for revelation? And I hadn’t thought about it in that way until I read and agreed that the three essential prayers are indeed “Help, Thanks, and Wow!” And I didn’t consider how my life has come full circle. On this Epiphany I can grasp a reality and perceive that without the twenty years of “help” prayers…that I would not be who I am or where I am or know what I do today. Wow. I am sooooooooooooooooooo thankful. Wow again. And again. And thanks. A lot.