It seemed appropriate to end a week such as I had with the day of Epiphany. This time of year, despite my many efforts to carve out a peaceful respite from the normal paces of life, proves always to be the most hectic, the most trying, the most disappointing. I know this sounds dismal, and I don't really mean it to be. I had a lovely Christmas honestly. I think in hindsight, my expectations are always set so very high that it is no wonder it falls short.
What has come as a surprise however is an ever-growing pleasure in Advent, and more markedly, Epiphany.
"To those who have seen
The Child, however dimly, however incredulously,
The Time Being, in a sense, the most trying time of all." WH Auden, "The Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio"
A contributor to a daily post in "Forward: Day by Day" defined "The Time Being" as "the time we spend disconnected from eternity". Every day we have moments as this, sometimes weeks can go by and we're still there -- disconnected from Eternity.
"Eternity is not endless time or the opposite of time. It is the essence of time.....sometimes an event occurs in our lives (a birth, a death, a marriage--some event of unusual beauty, pain, joy) through which we catch a glimpse of what our lives are all about and maybe even what life itself is all about....Inhabitants of time that we are, we stand on such occasions with one foot in eternity. God, as Isaiah says (57:15)"inhabiteth eternity" but stands with one foot in time. The part of time where he stands most particularly is Christ, and thus in Christ we catch a glimpse of what eternity is all about, what God is all about, and what we ourselves are all about too." Frederick Buechner, "Wishful Thinking".
We often see Epiphany as the end of the journey, but really it marks the beginning doesn't it? We come to the manger and catch a glimpse of eternity, and when we turn to leave we find that nothing is ever the same. This is the gift of Christmas, the gift of the Magi. We are transformed, and it is a bittersweet transformation.
"...We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
but no longer at ease here in the old dispensation,
with an alien people clutching their gods." TS Eliot, "Journey of the Magi"
My prayer for myself, for you, is that we will embrace this transformation as we continue this journey.
"The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hind's feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places."
Labels: The "Time Being"