We were startled to wake up to the New Year with a two-day power outage. Portent? Sign? Who knows?
Major storms hit Northern California over the last few weeks (with more to come), endangering all in the greater Bay Area, as flooding and falling temperatures (and trees) reminded us of the fragility of modernity, so dependent upon the power “grid.” As we entered the second day, I told myself it was good for me to see just how dependent we actually were upon electricity. No light. No hot water. No cooking. Limited cell phone use. No WIFI (!)
It was also a reminder of Christmas and Epiphany, the dark stable with the bright star shining upon the Son of God born this night, the light of the angelic choir singing to the shepherds and pointing the way to Bethlehem, the stunning cosmic appearance of the large star cluster in the sky noted by magi (early astrologers/astronomers). They would see this cosmic appearance heralded a major event. Astrophysicists today have noted that an unusual conjunction of planets and stars occurred around this time that could have been the bright star of Bethlehem.
Mystery and miracle abound. The heavens declare the glory of God as a child is born to save mankind, born in a lowly manger cave to swaddle each one of us, keep us safe from the cold and the dark.
I took advantage of the mini-lockdown that continued all week and wrote the first scenes of my new novel, The Music of the Mountain, working title. The lights and heat came back on with a screech but flood warnings encouraged us to stay put. The star of the heavens had entered our dark cave of a home to shine light on our souls, healing our blindness. A light shone in our darkness, for as St. John says, “That was the true Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9, KJ V). And with this little light of mine I tapped my keyboard, creating characters and sculpting scenes with my words.
The words spilled from my heart through my fingers onto the page just as they are doing now. This, I believe, is a miracle in itself, that Our Lord continues to shine the light of Heaven upon Earth, through each one of us, if we desire it. Eternity enters time and we glimpse starlight. When we look up into the night sky, we see stars forming perfect patterns, mathematical ratios singing the music of the spheres, and we realize the glory of our loving God surrounds us. Nature may not be so loving, with winds and floods storming our land, but there is an order behind it all, and we know by the light of Christmas that it is a loving order. We are the renegade ones. We are the rebellious children who worship idols. We are the shepherds and we are the magi in the cave on that dark, light-filled night. Our fear becomes wonder. We fall to our knees in penitence and worship. And a little child born to us over two thousand years ago in real time, in real history, forgives us from his manger-throne.
We are made whole by this holiness. Earth sings to the glory of God, reaching for Heaven. It is this conjunction of Heaven and Earth that is heard on Angel Mountain in my new story. It is this touching, the finger of God touching each one of us, recreating us, again and again, that is the music we hear, the perfect harmony of the Creator and his creation.
In this sense all of my stories are about Epiphany, this sudden sight, this sudden healing of our blindness. This child Jesus comes to us today, enters our hearts and lives there. Miracle and mystery abound, and we sing this song of love to one another, for there is nothing greater than the Heavens touching the Earth.
The Church celebrates Epiphanytide for six Sundays this year, the number varying with the date of Easter which is set by a cosmic calendar of the moon’s appearance (“the first Sunday after the full Moon that occurs after the spring Equinox” and relating to Passover.) Each Sunday the Scripture lessons will shine a light on the manifestations of Christ to the world. Today we are told by St. Paul in the Epistle to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1+, BCP 110). And the Gospel story tells of the boy Jesus in the temple, “sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions” (Luke 2:41+, BCP 110). In this Epiphany, the boy Jesus reveals who He is, for he says to his worried parents, “I must be about my Father’s business”.
And so we awake to a new dawn, to who Jesus is and his saving grace as the Son of God. We allow our minds to be renewed so that our hearts will know what is good, acceptable, and perfect, what is, at the end of the day, the will of God for each one of us.