It was 1984. As a mother of two young kids who taught teenagers during the day I had no alone time. But this didn’t keep me from trying to save the lives of my rapidly disintegrating family half a continent away by telephone. I reveled in my ability to do all of it because that’s what it meant to me to be a feminist pioneer.
The first day of the new year found me packing up from the holiday while I made school lunches and lesson plans. I came up with some vague resolutions, grabbing random shoulds out of the air and jotting them down as I gulped my early morning coffee. And so began another year as the same old Achievement Bunny Rabbit.
Then one year my husband left for a conference in early January, leaving me a few more duties and the gift of early bedtimes, which offered a little more time to myself. The first couple of days I polished off the leftover fudge, thinking now I was beginning to get in the mood for a real holiday, now that the decks were clear.
On January 6 my desk calendar said Epiphany. Since I had no experience of a liturgical calendars, I thought the Universe was setting me up with my own private holiday, as requested. Perfect. A day for me to devote to big insights from powers greater than me. What I did that day was sleep and write a note in my journal about what to eliminate from the holiday crazies next year. And I reminded myself to claim this holiday every year from now on.
It was a couple of years before I found about the Catholic holy day of Epiphany. A few years later in Mexico I discovered the Three Kings Day holiday on the same day. I decided it was best to be generous with these interlopers and share my holiday.
And so I began the day as usual two years ago on January 6, with my usual devotional plan. I leaned into the hope that a new year always brings. Halfway through the day my little bubble was breached, but this was nothing compared to another breaching going on that day. I later heard the Speaker of the House of Representatives, a devout Catholic, was praying for an epiphany–a jolt of insight that would somehow put an end to the unfolding tragedy. I continue to hold out hope that my country’s leaders will have multiple strokes of insight that will lead to a brighter future.
And this brings me back to my little “private” holy day. At first it was a huge revelation that I could even claim a day for my inner life right in the middle of the darkest time of year. Since then, I knew it was there waiting after everything wound down. That knowledge has been like a star lighting my way through the holiday crazies.
So I’m reclaiming January 6 as a time of introspection. Journaling usually figures into the mix. This year, I’ve been inspired by Suleika Jouard’s Isolation Journals: https://theisolationjournals.substack.com/p/our-new-years-journaling-challenge?utm
This may be my personal holiday, but I’m happy to share it with you. What if you took a day for you to recover, heal, dream, and listen right about now? To take down some dictation from your inner self? It turns out I have an idea for a name. We could call it Epiphany, honoring the rich history and symbolism of the inner tradition. We could celebrate the wise elders among us, those seekers who have traveled far to embrace the light within the darkness.
We could reclaim Epiphany for our deepest selves. Join me?
What’s it like, becoming human?
Words from a dream long ago.
I had no answer, only
unformed words that mostly
slower than the pace
of learning to be here
on this blue planet
It’s like being baptized in living waters,
I could have said,
muddy in the shallows
hardly noticing the drift
until you’re hauled
out of the deep
by your hair
and then you figure out
just how to move your legs
so that the water
holds you up
It’s like that time before you could swim,
I could’ve said,
When your friends held your prone body
tenderly above the deep water
on a raft made by touching
the tips of their fingers together,
and then you found out
that you could float
but they didn’t let go anyway
circled around you,
fingers joined, but you
just kept breathing.