Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his suffering ones.
—Isaiah 49:13 (NRSV)
This year I am beginning a tradition of celebrating the 12 days of Christmas — December 25–January 6 (Epiphany). After Easter, Epiphany is the liturgical celebration I enjoy most. When I was an editor at the United Methodist Publishing House, Nellie Moser, founding editor of Disciple Bible Study, would create a scene on a wall with movable figures to illustrate the narrative of the Magi (known as the Wise Men, Matthew 2:1-12) as they traveled to find Baby Jesus. Each day, beginning December 26, she would move the Magi figures a day closer to the revelation of God, until on January 6 they arrived at the Baby Jesus, lying in a manger.
The Epiphany story came alive for us on that wall. As a result, I have a sense of anticipation and joy for those 12 days between Christmas and Epiphany. I think of the joy of the Magi when they discovered the light of Jesus after traveling for so long. I feel their relief and excitement when they understood their search had ended. And though they brought gifts, they received the greater gift of seeing the fulfillment of the promise of a Messiah.
This season I feel even more connected to the travels of the Magi seeking hope, because 2017 has been a real journey for me. It began in January, when returning from a cruise given to me my niece, I was among thousands evacuated because of an active shooter in the Fort Lauderdale airport, which left 6 dead. In February, my remaining brother, Malcolm, died. At the beginning of August, we moved. The house did not have working air conditioning (did I say we live in Houston?) along with other problems. At the end of August, Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston.
In between these traumatic events, there have been been many moments of pure joy, which makes me want even more! I have identified 12 ways that I will be focusing on the comfort and joy of the season as I take a spiritual journey to reconnect to the revelation of God in my life. I invite you to join me!
- In Days to Come: From Advent to Epiphany by George H. Donigian. A book of meditations.
- Twelve days of writing in my journal. I have gotten off schedule, but I can begin again and reconnect with myself.
- Read the Woman’s Comfort Book: A Self-Nurturing Guide for Restoring Balance in Your Life. Ways to bring comfort to my body, mind, and spirit.
- Resume my daily walks. I miss connecting with myself and nature.
- Give myself 12 days of compassion.
- Bake my favorite oatmeal cookies and eat them without guilt.
- Buy myself a new nightgown that makes me feel happy.
- Send “You are Special” notes to people who in 2017 overcame obstacles.
- Plant paperwhite bulbs indoors. Proud of my one bulb. So easy. So fragrant when it blooms.
- Go to bed earlier and stop checking my news app at 3:00 a.m.
- Spend more time in silence.
- Savor my spiritual growth in the joys and challenges of being Mimi— giving care to my grandbaby while my daughter works.
Try one of these for each of the 12 days of Christmas, or select one or two that will allow you to experience comfort and joy on your journey.
May your New Year bring you joyful revelations and a new awakening to God’s light within you.