I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened —Ephesians 1:18
The window fills with sky
one half pewter,
laden with drops that splash
the cold concrete
the other half brilliant blue
in that midday dazzle
you feel like it could
be the first day of creation
or the last
and you know this moment
will not persist
you know you will forget
later in the drudgery
of evening, but for now
you remember how
rain and sun
conspire to show
you everything you need
to carry on to the end of day.
-Christine Valters Paintner, Dreaming of Stones
Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
The word “epiphany” means sudden revelation or insight. Who of us hasn’t had a moment when everything becomes clear for a moment? When beauty breaks through the ordinary events of our lives? Those moments can feel slippery – like waking from a dream. When we know that something important just shifted inside of us but that shift is also fragile and can easily get lost in the rush of our days.
Our world is starving for new revelation, new insight, new dreams and visions. Really the only way these arrive to us is through a commitment to slow down and to see more deeply.
The contemplative life is never just for its own sake. When we cultivate ways of being that are slower, more spacious, more attentive, more compassionate, we open up portals into these moments of epiphany.
I think of this beautiful ancient story of the magi following a star, trusting in their intuitions and the cosmic map ushering them forward. They carry gifts in their arms, knowing that these are on behalf of One who receives them with joy. They make the long journey in the unknowing of night’s embrace.
We each have treasures we carry. Gifts we were imprinted with at the moment we were breathed into by the Source of all life and all gifts. These treasures are ours to give away freely and generously. We will never discover their purpose by holding them close in our tight grip. We can only unwrap them by sending them out into the world and in this way they multiply.
As we begin a new calendar year, consider making a commitment to slowing down in the coming months to receive the epiphanies that offer themselves so freely to your open heart and your sacred vision. Dedicate yourself to sharing your treasures with a world so in need of generosity, abundance, and grace.
If you’d like to mark this sacred moment of the year and join with kindred spirits join us tomorrow for our Contemplative Prayer Service being led by Simon de Voil.
*ADDED NOTE: Sadly I have developed Covid symptoms and tested positive on an antigen test at home yesterday (impossible at the moment to book in for a PCR test). After working hard to avoid this virus the last two years because of my auto-immune illness, it is frustrating that it has breached our little cocoon (I have only been out for walks with John and Sourney in the last ten days). This new variant is indeed highly transmissible so take good care of yourselves.
On the optimistic side I am fully vaccinated and also have had my booster so am hopeful that what feels like a bad cold with coughing, headache, and some flu-ish aches and chills will subside soon and recede slowly into memory. I am taking good care of myself (photo of my furry nurse below) and have an oximeter to check my oxygen levels and those have been great so far. No fever yet either.
To support my full rest and healing this week Simon will be leading the contemplative prayer service on Monday for us and we are cancelling the Epiphany retreat on Thursday I was co-leading with Mark Burrows. I am especially sad to cancel that as it was going to be such a lovely experience, but we can hold the materials until next year and I know my health comes first. If you have already registered we’ll be working on refunds in the next few days.
Sending love to all of you and wishing you a most wonderful year ahead. If you too are ill right now, I send a shower of healing blessings from Ireland. I’d appreciate your prayers too!
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD
Image © Christine Valters Paintner