Epiphany: A Celebration of Wisdom

Wisdom is bright, and does not grow dim.
By those who love her she is readily seen, and found by those who look for her.
Quick to anticipate those who desire her, she makes herself known to them.
Watch for her early and you will have no trouble;
you will find her sitting at your gates.
Even to think about her is understanding fully grown;
be on the alert for her and anxiety will quickly leave you.
She herself walks about looking for those who are worthy of her
and graciously shows herself to them as they go,
in every thought of theirs coming to meet them.

Wisdom 6: 12-16 ( Jerusalem Bible)

The Twelfth Night of Christmas invites a celebration of Wisdom. In her book In Wisdom’s Path  Jan L. Richardson writes: The Feast of Epiphany began as a festival of the Eastern Church which celebrated the appearing of Jesus, focusing on the events of his birth and baptism. In the Western Christian tradition, Epiphany has … focused on the coming of the wise men to welcome Jesus. At its core this holy day offers an invitation to wrestle with the mystery of the incarnation, to recognize the multitude of ways that the sacred takes flesh and to welcome the divine into our midst.

Elsewhere Jan has written of the women who must also have come to welcome the radiant new life:


Wise women also came.
The fire burned
in their wombs
long before they saw
the flaming star
in the sky.
They walked in shadows,
trusting the path
would open
under the light of the moon.

Wise women also came,
seeking no directions,
no permission
from any king.
They came
by their own authority,
their own desire,
their own longing.
They came in quiet,
spreading no rumors,
sparking no fears
to lead

to innocents’ slaughter,
to their sister Rachel’s
inconsolable lamentations.

Wise women also came,
and they brought
useful gifts:
water for labor’s washing,
¬fire for warm illumination,
a blanket for swaddling.
Wise women also came,
at least three of them,
holding Mary in the labor,
crying out with her
in the birth pangs,
breathing ancient blessings
into her ear.

Wise women also came,
and they went,
as wise women always do,
home a different way.

Jan L. Richardson

As we enter a new year, we welcome Wisdom into our lives, knowing that “for those who love her, she is readily seen, and found by those who look for her”. Companioned each day by Wisdom, we shall, like the wise women in Jan’s poem, experience a fire burning in our wombs. Like them we will not seek permission of any king or ruler to do what Wisdom requires of us. We will set out on our own authority, our own desire, our own longing, trusting that for us,, as for them, the path will open under the light of the moon.

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