I don’t know about you, but as the Christmas decorations come down and the house is put back to normal, while there is a twinge of sadness at the loss of joyful reminders of advent, it is here that my heart gets prepared and quieted. No matter how intentional I am about seizing December and it’s true meaning (disclaimer – some years are better than others but we always get some truth – I operate in Christmas grace with four children – consider it my gift to you as well if you need it this year!) I don’t really drink in the expectation of advent, the preciousness of the crèche or the purest results of that manger until January.
Thankfully, there is an often passed over holiday that fits me almost better than Christmas in Epiphany. I don’t know about you, but come January, I need one. An epiphany. Distractions are put away and a new year is fresh and waiting and my heart is cleaned out, expectant, and desperate for, a manifestation of Christ. To gaze upon Him with my own eyes and for Him to appear to the world. For when you see Him, the only audible prayer left to pray is “Come quickly.” There is a great need for connection and a hope that I can have one.
Some of you adoptive mamas and dads who traveled over the holidays to bring home a son or daughter are thinking, “Phew! So glad I didn’t miss it! Christmas was a blur but I can still jump on board with the wise men and a Three Kings cake!” Yes, another gift to you added on to Christmas grace – the ability to keep visiting Jesus way into January. Some of you parents who haven’t adopted are high fiving over this revelation too because really we are all much more alike than we are different. Adoptive and non-adoptive parents can all carry Christmas guilt and need a do over or extension. Because, why would we want to bottle all of that journey, star lit nights and worship into one month?
Epiphany officially happened this past Wednesday, January 6th, the same day our sweet daughter Grace was wheeled to an operating room in hopes of a connection. Her palate needed an extension, a flap if you will, to be created by her own tissue and sewn to the existing one in order to speak correctly. No matter how hard she tries (and she tries hard) to make certain sounds, she will simply be unable to do so without this extension. The more she tries, the more damage she does to her vocal chords and we have listened to her voice get raspy and hoarse as months go on. Bad habits built by compensating for the deficit. Trying, damaged, and desperate.
I am just like her really. I think we all are. I try and strive and reach and work and get damaged and tired and desperate. I, like Israelites in the desert, with voices scorched with sand, am pleading, “Deliver me, deliver us…” I, like wise men from the East, am traveling far with the hopes of one glimpse, a chance to pause and breathe in glory. I am looking for connection. I, like our daughter, need Someone to fix the gap between healthy and damaged – no matter how hard I try, I can’t make that connection on my own good works or best motives or even noble principles. No, there has to be a substitute sewn into the very fabric of my being.
Grace’s recovery over the next month is a free pass to connect with her. I dread every time she has to have surgery – all parents do, but I love the chance to care for her, to love her, and to meet her gaze as she rests. In this quiet month, I am also taking the free pass to look again at the manger, to care for Jesus, to love Him, to glory in the Epiphany, just like the wise men. He was made manifest to the entire world when those three men bowed down. He came and He is coming again. He is our connection to holy, right and redeemed. Grace’s voice will rest and heal this month and I will pause the journey for one glorious look. Epiphany.