January 4, 2005 Epiphany
I moved to a totally new geographic area this past June. After living in the Midwest for a majority of my life, I chose to move to the Southwest. In contrast to my former job working in a hospital and with health care students I am now a home hospice chaplain. Everything is new…all the numbers that define how I can be reached and found, where I buy my food, go to church, work, and play.
Listening to the readings for the celebration of Epiphany, I found myself feeling very compassionate toward the Magi. They had only a star and a deeply spiritual sense that they were being called…drawn to a location to meet one who would change the lives of many. It was this deeper navel navigator this gut sense that this star would lead them to the most holy.
Unlike the magi who seem undaunted about traveling to a new geographical location, I find new geographical places have a way of stretching and expanding my sureties about who I am and where I am called to be. I have experienced this especially in my new work. Over the past ten years of working in the hospital in oncology, I gained a good reputation for my work and my presence. My health care colleagues learned over the years to trust that in my visits the patients would be spiritually well cared for and my time with them would bring another level of strength to their struggles with cancer.
However, here in this land I was new and for the most part unknown. My new colleagues know my credentials but not my stories. Many of the patients I see, live with the mysteries and challenges of dying from old age. Each visit we begin anew, as their very full memory seems to have no or little room to take the name of yet one more new person. And so it is like being the magi – new each time. I have followed the star which leads me to them, but unlike the magi I want them to remember me, remember at least a piece of a previous encounter.
It was hard for the first months, to see the blessing of this continual need to begin again…yet the truth is they asked me to be the very best I can be, totally present to the now, not relying on the past.
“They set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. Matthew 2: 9-10″
It is as if they demand from me each time to live waiting, to be ready for an Epiphany moment – nothing but the present star overhead exist, nothing but now counts.
I have to say that I didn’t get to most of those thoughts or options. For me I struggled with one primary question: would giving her money encourage her to continue in this practice?
So here I am, holding a new story of invitation…an invitation to hold with holy reverence that the gospel may be simple, but in my humanness with my need to be in control of truth…living it out is not always so easy.
As I move into this new week, may I dare to take into my prayer the heartfelt believe that my roots that are planted deep in running streams…and that the greening of my soul is being cared for by the Master gardener.