Today is Epiphany, or the 12th day after Christmas. Traditionally, Epiphany is the day for commemorating the “Three Wise Men” that visited baby Jesus in the nativity story.
Many people are more familiar with the word “epiphany” referring to a revelation that changes you, your perspective, your world in some important way. “I’ve had an epiphany,” we say, meaning that we’ve had some realization or made some new connection that causes us to change the way we see something. At first glance it may seem like a watering down of the original meaning, and yet it makes sense considering the origin of the word: three wise men see a star in the sky which causes them to realize their world has changed.
When I think of Wise Men I always think of Gandalf. Don’t judge, The Lord of the Rings is how I make sense of life, and Gandalf’s wisdom has gotten me through a lot.
In this case I think of the mines of Moria when Gandalf is trying to figure out which direction to go at a crossroads in the dark tunnels. “I am too weary to decide,” he declares, and suggests they rest for awhile. Finally, he lifts his head and realizes:
Gandalf: “Oh! It’s that way.”
Merry: “He’s remembered!”
Gandalf: “No, but the air doesn’t smell so foul down here.”
After spending much of the last year feeling rather lost, wondering where I’m going and how I’m going to get there, the beginning of the year brought for me a sense of epiphany akin to Gandalf’s realization. It happened quite suddenly, too: it’s as though after so much weariness and waiting in the dark I simply lifted my head and realized,
“Oh! It’s that way.”