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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
Send emails to: deaconj@geraniumfarm.org or add a comment on an existing post.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Epiphanies -- They just keep coming and coming and coming..

E-piph-a-ny, n 1. An appearance or manifestation, esp. of a deity. 2.(cap.)a Christian festival, observed on Jan. 6, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi: Twelfth Day. 3. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into reality or the essential meaning of something, often initiated by some simple commonplace occurrence.

For some reason, that pink marching, drumming spokesbunny for a battery company comes to mind: you know, the one that "...just keeps going, and going, and going...". Epiphanies are quite the opposite: they don't go, they come.

This particular year we church folk - between January 6 and February 3 - will have commemorated and liturgically celebrated one Epiphany and four other epiphanies with Jesus, John the Baptist, the first four disciples and the voice of God prominently front and center.

The simple way to make a case for the epiphanies of Jesus is simply to recap a month of Sundays: His recognition by the Magi, the cosmic connection Jesus made with his Father in the Jordan river, John's affirmation of Jesus' Messianic nature, the about turn by the first disciples to follow Jesus, the transformed appearance of Jesus with two illustrious prophets and the booming voice of God telling the disciples to listen up. Jesus and all the other people mentioned in the Gospel readings had epiphanies.

Yes, it would be simple to stop there. Yet if we did, it would be an injustice. Epiphanies occur because the hand of God touches each of our lives. I am a Christian and the older I become, the less disposed I am to the idea that coincidences are completely random actions. I hereby make the public statement that the more I pray and the more my faith grows, the more I am convinced that God is behind many of my "AHA!" moments. Let me give you some examples.

Toward the end of her life, I visited my grandmother, Mary, in the care section of the residential facility where she lived. During a conversation she mentioned that her parents had always favored her younger sister, Ann. I recall her saying 'That's not right and I didn't make that mistake'. It wasn't until after she had died around Valentine's day six years ago that I had an epiphany and made a connection. She favored my father (the firstborn), who was dutiful but not nearly as tolerant of her as my Uncle Bob. This despite the fact that Bob made an apartment in his home for her to live when she had to move; Bob was the one who invited her to move to Florida with him and Aunt Ruthie: she stubbornly refused. She favored me over my sister, despite my leaving the Roman Catholic church and not being the marrying kind. She favored my cousin Rob over his sisters and praised his every accomplishment.

Coming from a family with alcoholic roots on both maternal and paternal sides I often prided myself on not having 'given in' to alcohol. It wasn't until I learned that ones drug of choice didn't have to be a beverage or a controlled substance that another epiphany occurred. My world revolved around food. I ate when I was sad, happy, depressed, bored, scared, in love, out of love, angry, anxious. The epiphany was that my obsession and unnatural relationship with food made my life unmanageable. I joined a twelve step program.

I always felt called to serve God - I joined a co-ed experimental religious order in Colorado; that didn't work. I sang in different churches; that didn't work. I joined a 'real' religious order; that didn't work. I stayed as far away from God and prayer as I could; that didn't work. I was accepted into the first class for the diaconate in the diocese of New York; three weeks before the ordination and two after my mother died I got the call that I wouldn't be ordained. It seemed as if THAT hadn't worked either. It wasn't until after a compulsory year of intense therapy, spiritual direction, reflection and prayer that I stopped being angry long enough to have a poignant epiphany. I heard a voice that said, 'I call: the vocation is mine, the response is yours. You were not ready to be vulnerable, to love without counting the cost. Wait for my call again.' That was a real epiphany for me. I wasn't being punished. The committee wasn't being unfair: I wasn't ready yet. The second week in May I got a phone call inviting me to meet with the committee. They subsequently put me forward for ordination by unanimous vote.

Those are a few of my epiphanies and now (or during communion or some time this week) I'd like you to take some time and think about all the epiphanies you have had in your own life. Perhaps they popped up during prayer time, but it is more likely that they appeared unexpectedly in the midst of going somewhere or thinking or grocery shopping or talking on the phone. You just never know when the wind of the Spirit will send a fresh breeze your way inspiring insight or unveiling a previously hidden meaning or causing a spiritual connection.

The God of love and life and creativity will keep sending us epiphanies: new beginnings, opportunities, challenges and moments of exquisite clarity.

By the power of the Holy Spirit you can have faith that they will keep coming and coming and coming. Amen.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't find the epiphany in the paragraph dealing with your grandmother. Otherwise, enjoyed that post very much.

9:18 AM  
Anonymous sleepless said...

It's 2:15 a.m. and couldn't sleep, so I read your posts at More or Less Church. The first blogger couldn't find the epiphany in your paragraph about your grandmother. I did.

I copy your paragraph here in case anyone else reads my thoughts on it here.

Toward the end of her life, I visited my grandmother, Mary, in the care section of the residential facility where she lived. During a conversation she mentioned that her parents had always favored her younger sister, Ann. I recall her saying 'That's not right and I didn't make that mistake'. It wasn't until after she had died around Valentine's day six years ago that I had an epiphany and made a connection. She favored my father (the firstborn), who was dutiful but not nearly as tolerant of her as my Uncle Bob. This despite the fact that Bob made an apartment in his home for her to live when she had to move; Bob was the one who invited her to move to Florida with him and Aunt Ruthie: she stubbornly refused. She favored me over my sister, despite my leaving the Roman Catholic church and not being the marrying kind. She favored my cousin Rob over his sisters and praised his every accomplishment."

That paragraph jumped at me in my sleeplessness. Your grandmother made the same mistake she recognized in her own parents, and yet she thought she was not repeating the mistake in her own life.

My "aha" moment is about the "unfavored" oldest child.

My mother lives with me now; it's the ninth year. She's in her mid eighties. I'm the oldest. I love her and am glad that she is here with us. But she hates living here, is critical of me to the nth degree, blames me unjustly for the course of life events that brought her into our home for the rest of her years.

It's Ash Wednesday. I have resentments. I think of penance more than of forvigeness. I think of my mother's unhappiness and my helplessnes to make her happier.

I think of my own children, especially the oldest, who is most loved but surely, my epiphany today, least feels it. He lives alone and takes in the unloved as roommates, no thought of the cost, so he barely survives. We know each other less, our contact lately is so infrequent. He doesn't answer his phone, we say, and excuse ourselves for not trying harder to reach him. He doesn't call us much either; he is not a squeeky wheel and so gets no oil; he is the son who is the quiet one, pays his bills, asks nothing of us. Gets little praise; deserves much. My epiphany? Surely David is the "unfavored one," and feels our "advice" as disapproval. This our own beloved, first son, whose name we chose because it means "beloved of God."

As a resolution for the new year I had planned to write David things that are in my heart that are so hard to speak. A good intention that so far is helping to "pave the way to hell."

I see I have spent almost two hours writing here. I could have written to David. Maybe I will copy this and mail it to him. It would be a start.

Into my head come words from the Lord's Prayer I learned at the knees of my own grandmother. My grandmother would have made David, age forty something, feel her love.

As for my mother, my first-born son, and me and all who feel "unfavored", I pray this:
Vater unser ... vergib uns unsere Schuld, wie auch wir vergeben unsere Schuldigen...Our Father...forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us....
ci, Upstate

4:28 AM  
Blogger sleepless said...

It's 2:15 a.m. and couldn't sleep, so I read your posts at More or Less Church. The first blogger couldn't find the epiphany in your paragraph about your grandmother. I did.

I copy your paragraph here in case anyone else reads my thoughts on it here.

Toward the end of her life, I visited my grandmother, Mary, in the care section of the residential facility where she lived. During a conversation she mentioned that her parents had always favored her younger sister, Ann. I recall her saying 'That's not right and I didn't make that mistake'. It wasn't until after she had died around Valentine's day six years ago that I had an epiphany and made a connection. She favored my father (the firstborn), who was dutiful but not nearly as tolerant of her as my Uncle Bob. This despite the fact that Bob made an apartment in his home for her to live when she had to move; Bob was the one who invited her to move to Florida with him and Aunt Ruthie: she stubbornly refused. She favored me over my sister, despite my leaving the Roman Catholic church and not being the marrying kind. She favored my cousin Rob over his sisters and praised his every accomplishment."

That paragraph jumped at me in my sleeplessness. Your grandmother made the same mistake she recognized in her own parents, and yet she thought she was not repeating it in her own life. My "aha" moment is about the "unfavored" oldest child.

My mother lives with me now; it's the ninth year. She's in her mid eighties. I love her and am glad that she is with us. But she hates living here, is critical of me to the nth degree, blames me unjustly for the course of life events that brought her into our home for the rest of her years.

It's Ash Wednesday. I have resentments. I think of penance more than of forvigeness. I think of my mother's unhappiness and my helplessnes to make her happier.

I think of my own children, especially the oldest, who is most loved but surely, least feels it. He lives alone and takes in the unloved as roommates, no thought of the cost, so he barely survives. We know each other less, our contact lately is so infrequent. He doesn't answer his phone, we say and excuse ourselves. He doesn't call us much either; he e is not a squeaky wheel and so gets no oil; he is the son who is the quiet one, pays his bills, ask little. Gets little praise. My epiphany? Surely David is the "unfavored one." And I didn't see it. I hope I have time to show love to this good son, whose name we chose because it means "beloved of God.”

Into my head come words from the Lord's Prayer I learned at the knees of my own grandmother:
Vater unser ... vergib uns unsere Schuld, wie auch wir vergeben unsere Schuldigen...Our Father...forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us....
ci, Upstate

4:34 AM  

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