The 6th of January marks the time in many Christian sects when the 3 Sages, or Magi, see the sign of the birth of God in flesh. They saw a symbolic star, gathered their gifts, and began a long journey to see, experience, and know this miracle. This is called the Epiphany because this is when men, albeit just 3 wise men, saw clearly that it was possible to know the Immaculate Lord in the flesh, physical world. If we are not devoutly religious, Catholic, or interested in Christianity, why would this story be significant?
*a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way.
The Pope gave a homily (a religious sermon / teaching) on the subject, using the story to point out how we can in the modern day achieve union with the Lord. Union with the Lord, or bringing God more into our lives, simply means that we are connecting more consciously with the Essence of our Being - the hidden power that gives rise to existence itself. Like many religious figureheads, saints, sages and mystics throughout the ages, the Pope encouraged us to find happiness, peace, by looking beyond the material. He relates material success to glimmering, bright stars that, unfortunately and repeatedly, do not maintain their luster or flame. We "Ooo" and "Ahh" yet quickly forget. Instead, we should look to that which gently whispers to us steadfastly. Naturally he uses Biblical references and Catholic symbolism.
Looking beyond biblical verses and religious symbols: What is it that stays with us consistently through life? Well, this is a question that I cannot answer for you. I can say, though, that this question is actually the star which the 3 Wise Men saw - they saw the potential to connect with the essence of their being-ness.
epiphany of the Elders.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to volunteer with a hospice organization. I learned through my interactions with their clients that, as life nears its end, we are in a very juxtaposed position. Able to feel the closeness of death, yet obviously alive, clients related their lives to me through stories. None of the stories involved financial or material success, but rather revolved around family, friends, shared moments of joy, sorrow, or regret.
It's sad to think that as our lives near the end we might reflect on what our lives were all about, as if the end was the only place to pause. If we don't spend our lives chasing quick glory and pleasures perhaps this pause at the end will be more of a peaceful moment, rather than an anxious waiting.
This is the epiphany of the elders, and directly related to the Christian epiphany: when we seek the wholesome essence of life, we are more at peace. When we come to know permanently our essence, our peace remains eternal. Time, people, moments, objects - all come and go. Sometimes staying with us for a while, other times a brief moment. Are we to grasp and hold when our elders tell us that all eventual slips beyond our grasp?
seek and see the Essence in All.
When we make the goal of our life to be the direct realization, understanding, or knowing of what our True Essence is, a self-revelatory journey unfolds -a journey that exposes the intimate connection we have with all things. Now, it is essential that we bring along on this journey the purity of our intention, a willingness to transform, and a deep level of humility for the unknown. If we remain true to the course, we ultimately arrive at the goal - direct experience of the Divine Essence within our own lives.
So, beyond the religious talk, we can take a story about a special star, 3 wise men, and God as a baby, and extract a valuable lesson that even our own elders tell us from their experience: to really know the real value of life, we must find the essence of life and connect with it.