I went to Juneau for Epiphany ( Sunday January 5 we celebrate the arrival of the three wise men or Magi who followed the star to Bethlehem), and stayed on vacation for another week. On Epiphany at our church in Haines we have a little party with a cake, which has an ovenproof ring or baby Jesus baked into it, and the lucky person who gets the slice with the prize hosts a party before Lent, which usually is the pancake supper on Shrove Tuesday.
It’s an Episcopal thing, a tradition, and I like traditions.
Another tradition is the inspirational paper stars with words like “kindness” “respect” “peace” “grace” “tenacity” “humor” and “health” written on them to focus our attention on for the year. We drew stars at dinner at my daughter’s house down in Juneau too, and I picked “courage”, which is weird because I have been pondering and admiring it more and more lately. It takes courage to do so many things, from speaking at a borough assembly meeting to asking for forgiveness, not to mention driving on the ice like I did this morning on the way to the pool, and before I realized it was a bad idea, I was committed, and luckily it turned out okay. I did not skid into a ditch or crash into anyone. It helped that the roads are pretty quiet in January at 6:30 in the morning, and that I could stay in first and second gear the whole way there and back. It takes courage to write too, and some days I have more than others.
I read that Alice Munro had a slow start to her career because she kept hearing her critics– her mother , her neighbors, all asking: “Who does she think she is?”
Last night at the Chilkat Center, I watched a courageous performance by Haines summer resident Aaron Davidman who also wrote Wrestling Jerusalem– the film based on his play of the same title, in which he acts out all of the characters in a discussion (and loud argument in some cases) of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from all sides. It is a stunner.
In the film he shared an old mystic Jewish story about the light of the world being held in a vessel that broke and scattered shards of light everywhere, and how it’s our task to seek the lost fragments and try to gather them up and repair what is broken in ourselves and the world so we –and it– may become whole and bright again.
It’s a hope-filled image: gluing lost pot shards of light back together, don’t you think?
And a fine and doable task for anyone who may not be up for a whole play or a one man show, is to simply notice the glints of light, and even to capture just one and place it in a quilt or a poem, or a garden, or maybe tuck it into my heart like the baby Jesus in the cake, especially if there’s no time for action right away, for safe keeping.
Now of course, I’m seeing the little broken lights everywhere, from the dogs’ jingling collar tags when the lamp light catches them to the headlamps on my granddaughters’s hats out playing after dark– intentions are like that too, aren’t they? I hope the same can be said for my new “courage” star. Also, just in case I need a back-up star, I drew a leftover after church yesterday: “clarity.”
So, 2019 is my year of courage and clarity.
(You could try this with friends or family. It’s easy. Cut up a bunch of stars and write inspiring words on them and pass a hat.)
Remind me to tell you about Mr. Typewriter. It’s a good story, but will have to wait until next time, for clarity’s sake. (Hey, I have to begin somewhere.)