Though it may seem odd to some to return to the stable on Epiphany, it’s the culmination of the celebration of Christmas, and, personally this year, a reminder of my late mother who passed away five years ago on New Year’s Day. According to NationalToday.com:
“Epiphany is a Christian feast day celebrating the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ. In Western Christianity, the feast commemorates the visit of the Three Wise Men who followed an angel to Bethlehem where Jesus was born. The day has also been referred to as Three Kings Day and Little Christmas by both Irish and Amish Christians. The Feast of the Epiphany concludes the twelve days of Christmastide and is the traditional end of the Christmas season.”https://nationaltoday.com/epiphany/
My mother LOVED and collected nativity sets. During Christmastime, they could be found in every room of our house, frequently with multiple sets in one room alone. When she visited Israel with my father and their church shortly after 9/11, she inevitably came back with handcrafted sets for all of us. I still have that set and the one she gave me as a child. Visiting my father and sister this Christmas, I saw the hand-painted set she made for my sister with carved stable (my dad’s handiwork) upon her mantel. At my father’s house, three sets stood exactly as my mother set them out shortly before she died.
Now, five years later, they spoke to me of my mother, our gatherings at Christmas, the persistence of grief and the power of memory, and, most importantly, hope. Seeing those sets covered in dust led to the following epiphany. Though I had hoped to post this earlier in the week as a new year’s celebration, it’s fitting that I should have finished the poem today in time for Epiphany. May you find, as I did, in the nativity scene the hope that turns all brokenness kaleidoscopic! I know my mom has.
Vincent H. Anastasi - 2022 Dust gathers on the holy family while traveled magi still retain their gifts; shepherds dazzled by angelic decree remain aloof, though God be in their midst. Five years' grief has held them stiff in tableau untouched by hands that cling to memory; enduring through the constant ebb and flow of life, they intimate eternity. So gather now with festive natal joy all those who mourn in lonely exile here, and come rich dust and let your songs employ though loved ones slip from our celestial sphere. Nativity, I welcome you with hope, turning brokenness all kaleidoscope!