Today is the Feast Day of the Epiphany. For a more spiritually focused essay, with photos, see this post on my theology blog. But here, I'd like to think about what this Feast Day has to say to writers and other artists.
First, a bit of background: the Feast Day of the Epiphany celebrates the ways in which the incarnation of God in the person of Jesus is revealed early in the Christ story. More specifically, the Feast of the Epiphany celebrates the arrival of the wise men from the East to see and bring gifts to the baby Jesus. Often, the Epiphany season also includes the baptism of Jesus, which in some Gospels, can include a descending dove and God telling us that Jesus is God's son, with whom God is well pleased.
Note that God is well pleased even before Jesus has done a thing. For those of us who suffer self-loathing because we feel we're not doing enough and we're not living up to our full potential, perhaps we could take this lesson and back off a little.
Or maybe we want to take a completely different approach. Perhaps on this Feast Day of the Epiphany, we could move towards having an epiphany of our own about our work.
The word epiphany in literary circles has come to mean a sudden insight (that's the most simplistic definition). Here's the epiphany I'm hoping for today/this year: what am I put on this earth to do? What creative work is most important? If I didn't have all the time in the world--and we don't--what would I focus upon?
We hear a lot of talk in the world about writer's block, but that is not the reality for the creative folks I know. Most folks I know have far too many interests to be blocked. For most people I know, the difficulty comes with having too little time and floundering in terms of not being able to decide what work is most important. Let this be the year that we determine early what our essential work is, and let this be the year that we commit to that work and bring it to fullness.
But maybe you'd like a more light-hearted approach to the Feast Day of the Epiphany. The Christmas to Epiphany season is a festival of light. How can we get more light into our lives?
If you're a scented candle person, Yankee Candle is having a great sale right now, and it's not just their Christmas scents (at least not on their website). There are candles that are half price and 75% off. And if your order is under $100, shipping is only $5, which seems like a great deal to me, because those candles are heavy.
Or maybe you need a better desk lamp or better reading light.
Or maybe you need metaphorical light. What books have brought you joy and inspiration? Resolve to read them more often, even daily or weekly. Invite more light of every kind into your life! Watch your favorite movies. Seek out the T.V. shows that make you glad to be alive--and avoid the ones that make you anxious (like the local news, for example) or unworthy.
The Feast Day of the Epiphany can also be about gifts, and if you have any extra money, now can be a great time to buy yourself a gift when much of it is on sale. Buy yourself some new undergarments! That sweater you've had your eye on is likely on sale, and many of us still have a few months of cooler weather left. Buy a calendar that makes you happy--it's probably on sale right now. Stock up on your favorite, seasonal coffees and teas.
We rarely get this feast day on a week-end day, so that fact opens up possibilities. Why not bake some 3 Kings Bread? Last year, I wrote a blog post that gives the recipe along with photos. And for those of you who say "Bread? I can't possibly bake bread!", I say, "Yes, you can." This recipe is for a yeasted bread, but it requires no kneading. And while you could include candied fruit, you don't have to. For those of you still adhering to your New Year's resolutions to eat better, this recipe can work for you too: it's somewhat sweet, but also fairly healthy.
For those of us who still have yet to put away our Christmas decorations, today should probably be the day. Many of us have been on vacation, and tomorrow many of us return to work for the first time. Today, on the Feast Day of the Epiphany, many of us will need to put our lives back into a certain order to get ready for tomorrow.
But before we let go of Christmas entirely, let's take a bit more time to savor the season. Have one last cookie or cup of Christmas tea. Think about how you will continue to infuse sweetness into your post-holiday life. Think about the twinkly lights and the star that is so central to the Christian Christmas story. How can you get more light into your life? What star waits for you to notice and to follow its guidance? What gifts do you need? What gifts does the world need from you?