Sunday, January 4, 2015

Dark Epiphany



I woke up this morning in the dark. I tried my bedside lamp: nothing, the overhead light: nothing, my laptop: holding on at 30%. The sun wasn’t up yet, and I live in a basement, so there was no natural light. I stumbled over to my emergency lamp. It was dull, but it gave enough light for me to get dressed and brush my teeth. I ran a brush through my hair, but it was too dark to tell if it was effective. I prided myself in having a clean apartment; it was the only way I was finding anything in the dark.

As I left for church, I noticed the entire street was dark. A couple of blocks ahead had lights, but as I pulled into the church parking lot, I realized I was back in the dark. Several people held up their phones and flashlights in the church hallway leading into the nave. The nave was dark. It was still early, and what little sun might have shown through was blocked by gray clouds. 

Everyone went routinely to their pews; again, organization really helped in the dark. Although, for a Catholic church, we were really lacking in the candle department. A few lit up the ambo and altar, but I was hoping we could have lit the whole place with flickering glow. With a few awkward giggles, we began the service. Oh, there will be plenty light jokes this morning, I figured. Christianity is always mentioning darkness and light. It’s the first and most prominent metaphor for our journey toward God: "Let there be light," coming out of darkness, being a light to the world, etc. As expected, the priest made some comment about the light, we prayed, and we started the Gloria.

About a third of the way through the Gloria, the lights returned. It seemed too bright, too powerful, too artificial. I winced as my eyes adjusted; I just wanted candles and Christmas lights. As with any creature coming of out of darkness, light is good but also overwhelming. Then the readings began:

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come,
the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
but upon you the Lord shines,
and over you appears his glory.
Nations shall walk by your light,
and kings by your shining radiance.

Oh yeah, it’s Epiphany, I realized. Although it falls on the 6th, we celebrate it this Sunday. Because of date difference, I had completely forgotten. This is day all about light: the guiding star, the light coming into the world, epiphany. How ironic. We concluded service with “We Three Kings,” overhead lights, Christmas lights, candles, and sunshine. Sometimes life just beats me over the head with metaphor.

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