Epiphany Season and The Rhythm of My Camel

Crossing the threshold into the new year has been challenging for me this year. Normally, I tackle my list, completing or adjusting tasks from the previous year and eagerly moving forward on a list of intentions for the new year. This year I have done this and that, now and then, but without much energy or focus.

This is not my normal rhythm, and since “rhythm” is my word of the year, I am paying attention to this change in my pace.

I’m not the only one whose pace seems slower.

My camel, the one I rode to the manger in Bethlehem and who now is returning me home, is moving slowly. Very slowly. Why isn’t my camel moving faster, especially since we Wise Ones dropped off our gifts to the Holy Family and the load is lighter? I do realize that we are taking a different route home, in order to avoid Herod. The way is new to me and to my camel.

My camel has been a faithful servant and the days on the journey have been long and uncertain, and perhaps it is tired. I am tired, too. I am weary of living with the uncertainty of these days and the plans unmet and the need to be ever-vigilant and flexible and resilient. Perhaps you are feeling this way, too.

Thanks to one of Diana Butler Bass’s recent blogs, https://dianabutlerbass.substack.com/p/epiphany-now I remembered that Epiphany is not just the day the Wise Ones arrive at the manger, but rather Epiphany is a whole season that lasts until Ash Wednesday, which, this year is later than usual, March 2.

Therefore, I whisper to my camel as I pat its long neck, “No need to rush. Take your time. I trust we will get there when we get there, and who knows what amazing sights we will see along the way. Didn’t we see the brightest of stars at the beginning of our journey, and oh, how miraculous that was?

And who knows what dreams we will have when we stretch out under the expanse of the night sky and what thoughts will occur, as I rest in the slow and steady rhythm of your movement, dear camel companion.

This journey into the new year may be a new direction, but one that requires a kind of spaciousness and time to unfold. Perhaps this year ahead is one in which deeper clarity and understanding will emerge, bringing unexpected gifts. My task is to pay attention, to stay awake, but also to rest when overwhelmed or weary. I trust your ability to guide me and get me where I need to be. In your good time, dear camel companion.

An Invitation: What is your rhythm as you move into the new year? I would love to know.

Crossing the Threshold into the New Year

Welcome to the new year! As with any year, all years, we have no idea what will happen in this new year. We never know. It is always unknown. We certainly had no idea on January 1, 2021 what we would face in the coming months, but one thing we know for sure is that the old year has turned.

Here we are on the threshold of the new year.

What a good time to pull up your chair to silence.

I invite you to close your eyes lightly, not tightly and take a deep cleansing breath. Breathe in and out gently, finding your own rhythm.

Stay in the silent space as long as you wish, and when you are ready open your eyes, glance around you, as if seeing your space for the first time, and read these words:

Divine Gate-Keeper, ever present to my soul,

I approach the threshold of the new year

Aware of my vulnerability and mortality,

Recognizing my dependence on your vigilance.

Your wisdom will direct my inner footsteps

As I face the future’s unmarked terrain.

Your rapt attentiveness assures me

That you will guide my comings and goings.

This day I join my heart with all living beings

As we walk together toward what lies ahead.

Joyce Rupp

Before opening the gate and crossing the threshold fully into the new year, I invite you to pause on the threshold and reflect on the lessons and gifts of the past year. We have an opportunity before we become used to living in 2022, to reflect on the ways 2021 was sacred text for us.

Let your heart speak.

When I think about the new year, I….

As I let go of 2021, I feel…

As I move into 2022, I…

This is a good place to start, but perhaps you want or need to go deeper.

Imagine that you are preparing to walk a labyrinth. You stand on the threshold and see a long winding path in front of you. What do you imagine as you begin the journey. I think about the Wise Men–and I choose to believe there were Wise Women, too, who are still on the journey to the Christ Child. They are bringing gifts, but they will receive gifts, too. They just don’t know what they will be.

Here are some threshold crossing questions to consider as you reflect on the past year?

What do I treasure about 2021?

What have I hidden away?

What griefs and losses, regrets and changes do I need to process?

What have I made visible?

How have I become more of the person God created me to be?

And now as you envision 2022, here are other questions to consider:

What are your yearnings for the new year?

What can I do for God in the coming year?

What can God do for me?

How might the new year offer you space in which to dream, create, act, be?

What is the heart of your new year’s prayer?

Allow the questions to live within you. Sit with one that seems to resonate or one you wish I had not asked. The journey is more than one step, but begins with one step.

You’ll notice I did not mention “resolutions.” I prefer the word “intention,” for intention implies to me a gradual and ongoing unfolding. And that unfolding grows out of reflection and contemplation.

May this be a time of loving presence.

An Invitation: What are you feeling, experiencing, learning as you cross the threshold? I would love to know.

NOTE: You may want to read my new year’s post on my previous blog, Clearing the Space http://clearingthespace.blogspot.com/2020/12/crossing-threshold-into-new-year.html

NOTE: In my Tuesday, January 11 post, I will share my WORD OF THE YEAR and offer strategies for how you can discover your own word of the year.