|My adopted daughter, Glitter Mittens, "coota" in Gullah language, at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, 2019|
Being Open on the Day of Epiphany
January 6, 2020
Christians celebrate today, January 6, as the Feast of Epiphany, or The “Self-Manifestation” of God in which, on the twelfth day of Christmas, three wise men found the Christ child lying in a manger in Bethlehem.
I don’t think you have to be a Christian to appreciate the metaphor of the wise men, who hear a rumor of a savior and travel, guided by a star, to find the child in the most humble of circumstances. Still, they recognized what they saw - a savior, a messiah - and offered their precious gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And as Matthew 2:12 says, they decided not to report back to the Roman King Herod, who had it in mind to destroy this “King of the Jews.” “And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.”
I can’t get over this humble Jesus no matter how far I stray from my Christian roots. He is it for me. From everything from his humble birth to his gruesome death and jubilant resurrection, I love him totally and completely. He is teacher, rabbi; he is activist, gathering people together and calling out injustice; he is sufferer, withdrawing and praying; he is lover and healer of those who seek him out. He is vulnerable and he is real, and he lives on and on and on in my heart. He challenges all of us, but most especially men, I think, to break down the walls of our heart and enter into an intimacy, which Richard Rohr says is another word for trustful, tender, and risky self-disclosure.
That seems to be what is up for me now. At 68, I can’t pretend to be anything other than what I am. I certainly am not proud of all that I have done and been. Our guide at the Gullah-Geechee Museum in Savannah reminded me so much of a lover I had back in the day, and though I didn’t admit it at the time, I now know that I treated him very badly. He even said it once, that I was cruel. That didn’t fit my self-image at the time so I discarded it, and focused instead on his shortcomings. But I hope that I am now able to be vulnerable enough with myself to take a fearless inventory of my thoughts and behavior, and correct my course when I become judgmental, impatient or cruel. I try not to be those things, but sometimes I am, and I pray that I have enough consciousness to stop myself before I do irrevocable damage to someone.
Richard Rohr says, “I believe vulnerable intimacy is the entrance into and the lynchpin between all human and divine love. It does not matter which comes first; it is just important that we pass through this gate of fear and find what lives inside us—and on the other side of the gate.”
Whether grasped by the love of Jesus, or someone on this human plane, we owe it to ourselves and each other to forge ahead through fear, and find what lies within the heart of love. I am sure it is worth the risk and effort.
Copyright 2020 Constance B. Yost. All rights reserved.