Sunday, February 22, 2009

The last Sunday after Epiphany

And so Epiphany has been brought to a close and a new season is about to begin...

Today's Gospel passage, Mark 9:2-9, was fitting. We begin Epiphany, meaning "a sudden manifestation" with Christ's revelation to us in the form of a baby, something so powerful and amazing it manifests itself with a bright light shining down upon the baby to allow those seeking Him to find Him. And we end Epiphany again with a manifestation; this time in the Transfiguration. Christ Himself becomes "dazzling white" and his closest friends know who He is: "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!"

In these dark wintery days, I have often yearned for the light. How much more should we yearn for the light and "listen to him."

And so from His Birth we are now journeying to His death. As the wise men asks in "The Journey of the Magi" by T.S. Eliot, "were we led all that way for Birth or Death?...I should be glad of another death."

Journey of the Magi - T.S. Eliot

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times when we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities dirty and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wineskins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

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