tomorrow is epiphany. a day that most people probably don’t ever think about or know anything about. but, for us theology nerds, we’re totally aware. and for me, i am always excited when this day rolls around every year.
epiphany is the 13th day after christmas, always on january 6th. and it is the celebration of the manifestation of the belief that god became human in the person of jesus, a significant belief in the christian faith. but for all of you (us) others out there, christian or not, it can still have a great theological/spiritual meaning. it is a day of recognizing that God is not some white-bearded, old man in the sky, but rather God is the divine, holy part of ourselves, within us. that being that connects all humans.
i love epiphany. i love that word. what’s not to love about a sudden amazing understanding or manifestation of the essence or meaning of something? we all love a-ha moments, don’t we? those moments when things just make sense, when everything becomes clearer, and a deeper, almost indescribable understanding happens. that’s an epiphany. like light breaks forth shining meaning & understanding on all that was in the dark. like those moments in life when we finally get it. yeah, epiphanies are amazing moments.
i have had many little epiphanies over the past 6-7 years, but today i was reminded of one specific epiphany moment 6 years ago.
it was christmas/new years holidays in 2008, and my mom heard about a book that was becoming popular, so she read it. the entire time she was reading, she said, she was thinking of me. everything happening in the book seemed to be mirroring my life exactly. so, she passed the book on to me, asking me to read it, because she thought it would be meaningful – and she was blown away at the parallels, even down to the fact that the author and i are both named elizabeth.
the entire book was an epiphany for me. or rather, not a new epiphany, but it was like reading about all the little epiphanies i’d been having during the past year. everything that the author chronicled in her book, i was in the process of experiencing myself.
the book became a manifesto for me. and it still is. in a sense, it gave me permission to do all of the crazy things i was preparing to do. i suddenly didn’t feel alone. or i felt that there was someone out there, someone that i shared a name with even, who dreamed of rediscovering herself through a spiritual journey around the world, as much as i did. so she did. and she wrote of her journey.
and i made my journey too.
today i spent the day in my pjs. wrapped up in a blanket. snacking. watching movies & hgtv (oh, sweden, why can’t you have hgtv?!). as i was flipping channels this afternoon, i saw that “eat, pray love” was coming on, so i hunkered down & watched it for a second time. and i experienced epiphany all over again.
it wasn’t something new that i suddenly understood, but something that felt renewed inside me. a remembrance of the journey i have been on, of who i was, who i have become, who i am today. all the countries, all the people, all the experiences i have have in the past 6 years… it’s been so amazing. before i took off on my little self-discovery world journey, i knew in my soul it was the right thing to do. i knew in my soul that this wanderlust-y, pilgrim was who i was. but, i did not know all of my passions – i did not know the things in life that truly make my heart sing. i knew i was a person to live from my soul, but it has taken this journey to teach me how to live & love from my soul. it was this journey that taught me that to give myself to love, “to lose my balance to love, is to find balance in life” (elizabeth gilbert).
but, this whole journey of self-discovery is a hard thing to do. practically, but also emotionally. it can be something that is riddled with guilt, and i admit that i had struggled with guilty feelings off & on throughout the whole journey – even today. but, i am learning to let that go. i am beginning to understand that living from my soul, being free-spirited me, is not selfish, but is actually good for me & for the world around me. when i am balanced, living creatively, filling my soul, then all of that joy and fulfillment spills out into my life.
it’s the same as the old spiritual battle i always had with myself. i have a tendency to turn inward, to want to read, meditate, pray, be alone. a true introvert, i am. i just want to be. in nature. with god. i’m not the girl out there being overly social and getting my hands dirty in every mission & social project i can. i like to be involved, but in a much more low-key kinda way.
anyway, i always felt so torn. it’s the mary/martha syndrome. mary was called “the good sister” by jesus because she sat at his feet, simply listening, being, and conversing with him. martha was busy flitting around the house preparing food, cleaning, fussing over all of the practical things. this little story always made me feel good, since identify with mary, but i also knew that being busy, getting things done, being active is important too. so, what do i do? how do i balance?
well, i’ve learned that balance comes naturally when one is true to herself. when i am true to my nomadic, wanderlust-y, introverted, creative self, then i am much more effective in the world. my passion, my love for life spills out naturally because i am overflowing.
My birthday’s coming up soon. If I were home, I’d be planning a stupid, expensive birthday party and you’d all be buying me gifts and bottles of wine. A cheaper, more lovely way to celebrate would be to make a donation to help a healer named Wayan Nuriyasih buy a house in Indonesia. She’s a single mother. ln Bali, after a divorce, a woman gets nothing, not even her children. To gain custody of her daughter, Tutti, Wayan had to sell everything, even her bath mat, to pay for a lawyer. For years, they’ve moved from place to place. Each time, Wayan loses clientele and Tutti has to change schools. This little group of people in Bali have become my family. And we must take care of our families, wherever we find them. Today l saw Tutti playing with a blue tile she’d found in the road near a hotel construction site. She told me: Maybe if we have a house someday, it can have a pretty blue floor like this. When I was in Italy, I learned a word — It’s “tutti” with double T, which in ltalian means “everybody.” So that’s the lesson, isn’t it? When you set out in the world to help yourself, sometimes you end up helping Tutti.
i’ve said alot now. and i feel like i’ve rambled all over the place. but this is my epiphany this year. it builds on previous epiphanies, but it goes deeper as each year passes… this understanding of balance, of who i am, of my place in this world, of how to live from my soul & how to love more fully.
on this epiphany, my friends, i wish for you a moment of revelation & understanding. like the moment when the foreign wise men, who made their through deserts, following a star, to see a newborn baby laying in a barn, understood that the baby was a king, and that he was someone who would change the world through peace, love, & non-violence. it was not the wise mens’ religion or politics that drew them to the baby, but it was a journey that they knew from their soul was one they had to make. and because they were faithful to that journey, they grew, changed, and learned much more about themselves, which then, allowed them to make their mark in the world.