Epiphany/epiphany/epiph: they’re all cool!

Today is Epiphany: “a manifestation, a striking appearance”. Most folks associate Epiphany with its religious context but there is more to it.

For those whose faith tradition is Christianity (in particular western Christianity which uses the Gregorian calendar; eastern Christianity uses the Julian calendar and celebrates on January 19th) it is the Feast of the Epiphany and the twelfth day of the liturgical Christmas season (your 12 lords a’ leaping should arrive any minute now). It is also called Three Kings Day or the Feast of the Magi, when Jesus became manifest to the gentiles.*

There are a number of traditions associated with the day. Since it is the end of the Christmas season, many folks take down their trees and decorations. You may also want to enjoy a king cake; a ring-shaped bread or pastry in which a small, plastic baby  Jesus is hidden. Baptisms and house blessings are common. In some cultures, children will leave their shoes outside the door to awaken to gifts and candy.*

In our more common usage, an epiphany is a revelation; discovery or clarity about something usually triggered by new information or deep thought. That is a pretty tall order for most of us just trying to get through the day. For me, “Deep Thoughts” are the business of Jack Handy of SNL fame. But I do periodically have what I refer to as “epiphs”, not necessarily groundbreaking moments of clarity or revelation, but certainly finding a new way of looking at something I’d not previously considered.

The challenge is staying open to the opportunity for epiphs or even full blown epiphanies. You see, I have a thinking problem. When my thinking or methods are challenged, the internal visceral response is typically something like, “Uhhhh, NO! You have no idea what you’re talking about. You cannot possibly know as much as I do about what dragons do on vacation (or whatever) so I am shutting you down, shutting you out, or shutting you up until you come back around to my way of thinking. ‘k?” No, not okay.

I wouldn’t typically say this outloud but my actions and overactive facial expressions are basically a visual interpretation of every negative thought marching through my head. So I have been practicing acknowledging that visceral impulse and then acting from a thoughtful, rational, compassionate place. I’ve found when I shut up long enough, I can sometimes actually learn something or at the very least not hurt someone who’s just trying to help. I’m not 100%; remember, I’m practicing.

So today, I will be open to new thoughts, ideas and information and create more opportunities for “epiphs” or perhaps even a full blown epiphany.