Today is the last day of the Christmas season, Epiphany, unless we want to extend the Christmas season to Feb. 2, Candlemas, the day that celebrates the presentation of Jesus in the temple 40 days after his birth. When I mention extending the season until Feb. 2, people react in horror.
But I remember the wreaths at Mepkin Abbey, still up in the cold gray of February, and how cheery it was. Before that, during a Feb. ski trip to Vermont, I remember wreaths on all the doors and how I wished we did that throughout the country.
Last night I drove home after the New Student Orientation for night students, and I thought about how much I will miss the twinkly lights. I thought about how yesterday was a day of epiphanies, none of them earth shattering, at least, not yet.
In the early morning, I did some writing on my short story about a woman who once majored in English, but went on to work in a for-profit school as part of the Corporate structure that decides which schools should be closed down. I wrote to my grad school friends: what do we think about the last name of Cromwell for such a character?
It came to me because a law firm of Cromwell and Harrington was an underwriter for our NPR station--I thought that was both the perfect name for a law firm and totally unbelievable because it was too perfect. And then I thought about my character and my brain was off and clicking.
I must confess that my knowledge of this period of British history is shaky. I see Cromwell as this power-mad, king killing traitor to the nation--but I also realize how he might be seen differently, by other types of freedom loving sorts--the Wikipedia article mentions that Leon Trotsky sees him as a class revolutionary, which intrigued me.
My grad school friends agree: Cromwell is a great name. I look forward to seeing where this story takes me. It first came as a glimmer, a meditation about all our costumes that I wrote around Halloween. And then during a December motorcycle ride, I realized what the character does for a living.
I'm really enjoying writing this series of short stories. I like that I'm no longer at the school which is the link between the characters.
Another epiphany from yesterday: we found out the date for our accreditation site visit--it's at the end of April. In some ways, I wish it would happen earlier. But I'm glad to have time to get everything more shipshape.
I'm now thinking about postponing our home repairs until after the visit. My spouse might remind me that there's always going to be some reason for postponing. But we have family coming in early April and then the site visit in late April. Let me keep considering.
Yesterday was a long day at work. Since I couldn't leave the office, I took some time to make some submissions. Did I have any epiphanies? No. I continue to send to a mix of journals. I'm not paying a $3 submission fee (call it what you will) to submit online to a journal that has rejected me for years (gulp--decades) before instituting this fee. Why am I willing to spend $1 on postage, but not on fees? Part of it, I must confess, is that I still love getting paper mail, even if it's a rejection. I love stamps, I love envelopes, and so, I'm willing to spend that money. But no epiphany there--I've known this about myself for years.
Another epiphany, sort of: if we have crackers in the house, I'm going to have cheese, crackers, and wine after a long day at work. If we don't have crackers, I'm less likely to start eating the cheese--and if I start eating the cheese, it's easy to eat 1/4-1/2 pound or more--don't ask how I know.
These are not the kinds of epiphanies I used to think that I wanted, but in my older age, I'm not sure I want that earth-shattering kind of epiphany where nothing can ever be the same again.
This year, as I've listened to the Advent and Christmas texts, I've been aware of the admonishment to stay awake, alert, and aware. We won't always get the message in the blaze of an angelic choir. We may need to study our source material, whether that be the sky or the sacred texts, for years or decades, before we see the miraculous.
On this Epiphany, let us pray for the discernment to be able to see God's message against all the other twinkles that might distract us. Let us trust that our gifts will be enough.