This morning, "Los reyes" (the kings) made some deliveries to my front porch, living into the tradition of gift-giving on January 6th, the Feast of Epiphany—commemorating the visit of the magi to the baby Jesus. Growing up in Argentina, my sister and I would put our shoes under the tree Epiphany eve in hopes that the magi would arrive in the night, delivering gifts.
And, on the outside doors to houses and congregations, people all over the world will be inscribing "20+C+M+B+21" (with the initials standing for the first names traditionally given to the magi—Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar) to chalk in a new year with a prayers for blessings and good health.
These traditions are heartening ways to make a fresh start with some joy and hope and a feeling that we are not alone.
I share a poem written yesterday by our colleague, the Rev. Dr. Robin Tanner, of Beacon UU Congregation in Summit:
It wasn't at a manger for God's sake.
Weeks later they came,
I rolled my eyes.
There had been so many visitors.
"Royalty is exhausting."
But these were wise ones
Crowns left tucked away in kingdoms, hair dressed with bits of hay,
robes and jewels exchanged for traveling shawls, sturdy sandals,
Declaring journey and something more...
My beleaguered body holding a half-savior who wasn't sleeping
a spouse still building our home
the endless bangs and booms just as sleep crested my eyes.
They did not kneel for pleasantries, wasted time,
instead one lifted the babe as I wept
One ushered me to bed while she opened an ointment easing the pain from cluster feeding
While yet another stilled my husband's hand...
I heard his voice husky from the desert winds
as the last baritone line
before a long slumber
"Be still, she sleeps now
the glory of the Love is upon you."
What hopes for 2021 might you "chalk on your door"?
How might you be a gift in these auspicious days, letting someone know that they are not alone?
Many things await us. May we meet the challenges and joys to come, together.
Happy New Year!