This is the season of awakenings. While we are busy celebrating Christmas and the New Year, another celebration sneaks up on us, one that gets little attention but reminds us of the importance of insight and inspiration – the Epiphany.
The Epiphany holds different meanings for different cultures. For Christians, it recollects the inspired visit of the three kings, the Magi, as they presented the infant Jesus with grand gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Having trusted the beauty and holiness of their own star-guided journey, they themselves received the reward of seeing the ultimate goodness of the world lying in a manger.
In Newfoundland culture, January 6th is also celebrated as Old Christmas Day, the last day of the joyful season of Christmas. By the time old Christmas day arrives, we have opened our presents, visited our family and friends, relaxed and hungrily consumed pounds of fruit cake, turkey, salt meat and cheesies. Then January 6th arrives, gracious and good-humoured, to tie up the twelve days of Christmas in a neat little bow.
Only in recent years have I heard of the Epiphany being called “Women’s Christmas”. Women in Ireland and other parts of the world are rewarded for their hard work over the season with one full day of rest on January 6th. No cold plates to put together, no Clorox to spray. This is certainly not to say that the gentlemen of the world don’t contribute steadily to the work of this season. A day that celebrates the creative labour of anyone, man or woman, who has devoted themselves to the beauty of Christmas should have a rest tomorrow!
While these epiphanies are anchored in faith and tradition, we all experience our own throughout the year. You might feel the smallest of awakenings when you say to yourself, “I think I should walk a bit more” or you might appreciate a huge personal discovery as you say “I think I’ll go back to school and follow my heart’s desire.” I hope that whatever your epiphany is this year, it only serves to expand your joy, peace and happiness.
The Gifts of Branch
As we approach the actual epiphany tomorrow and reflect on the gifts so graciously brought to Jesus, we can also contemplate the gifts Branch lavishes upon us each day of the year – the three gifts of place, pride and people.
The Gift of Place
Branch, the place, brings beauty galore. Whether you live here or have never laid eyes on Branch before, the effortless blending of sea, sky, river and community as you top the Easter’ Cove Hill and look down into that valley would leave anyone breathless.
From the golden sunrise over the cove each morning, to that same shining sun dipping into the horizon above Branch River, we are blessed.
The Gift of Pride
We are taught to view pride as a vice, not a virtue but in the case of the Branch crowd, I think we can make an exception. The pride that we have in being from Branch can only be described as a quirky but crucial asset as we move forward in this year and indeed in this decade, working to keep our community alive and well. Holding Branch in high regard and sharing that gift with others can only serve us well. The poet David Whyte talks about the “arrogance of belonging”. As Elizabeth Gilbert says, the arrogance of belonging keeps you going, not by saying, “I am the greatest!” but merely by saying, “I exist.”
The Gift of People
The people of Branch are the greatest gift. They are a kind, welcoming, funny, enlivened crowd who are ready to roll up their sleeves, whether it is to help out, dance, dig a potato bed, tell a story or put out a fire. They will offer you a stew as quickly as they would a warm embrace. Whatever you need, they will be there to help. Our touchstone is kindness.
A Gift for You
I also want to present a small gift to you, dear blog readers, especially those of you who don’t spend your days in our beloved community. Chris suggested that you might enjoy this bit of Branch news. I hope it will make you smile and give you a snapshot of what is happened in Branch today! Here she goes:
It was a foggy, warm almost Spring-ish day here. The temperature was about 6 degrees Celsius and there’s a big sea in the Gut.
Most people have taken down their Christmas lights in the last few days. Len took down their lights this morning. Most of the Christmas lights still sparkling are over here in the Cove.
Many people, still have their Christmas trees up.
Colin and Hubert Power were at kelp on the back of the beach this morning.
The Come Home Year committee had a meeting out to Donnie’s last night.
The “sickness” (also known as the stomach flu) is still on the go but it’s on it's way out.
Dennis and Annie are married 54 years today. Some nice!
Michelle will be in the shop tonight.
Here’s to the Magi, the New Year and all our gifts, great and small!