Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Having An Epiphany

With today being the Christian festival of Epiphany, a reflection on its meaning seems appropriate. The primary meaning of the Greek word epiphany is "appearing" or "manifestation." In Christian tradition, this is the day when Christ was made manifest to the gentiles in the form of the Magi.

Epiphany occurs on the Twelfth Day of the Christmas season and is the season's end. In early Christianity, Epiphany was a more important festival than Christmas-- and this is still the case in the Eastern Orthodox tradition.

Another meaning of the word epiphany is "a sudden, intuitive perception or insight into reality or the essential meaning of something, often initiated by some simple, commonplace occurrence" (Webster's Dictionary).

This latter meaning of epiphany is intriguing. Haven't all of us had sudden insights into the essential meaning of something? These are rare occurrences, but can be life changing. I am fascinated by the idea that these epiphanies can be initiated by a "simple, commonplace occurrence."

Such epiphanies can happen at any time and in any place. The key is our openness and receptivity to them. Perhaps epiphanies would happen more often if we looked and listened for the sacred and holy in everyday life.

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