I've spent the last week digging out from being on vacation the week between Christmas and New Year's. The holiday was nice and it was very good to see so much family in Denver, but coming home was a bit rough. Walking into the house with a car load of immediate to-deal-withs (at 2 a.m., no less), only to remember that, because we left on the twenty-fifth, the house looks like a Christmas Bomb exploded in the living room. We watched the Rose Bowl from behind a two hundred pound pile of laundry. Good times.
An now life begins again. One of my classes started yesterday; the other today. This is, of course, in addition to all the other things we do. So, like you, I am busy. I am not sure that my time off from school was the recharge I had hoped. Though there was much time to relax and sleep over our week's vacation, the time leading up to vacation was punctuated by too much commitment, very cold weather, and a ridiculous share of illness. Every year I say that I will . . . I don't know. . . simplify? So that the Christmas season might be more spirit-filled. This year I found it nearly impossible to do so without letting every one down--a thing that is entirely against my nature. After my initial burst of warm fuzzies and delightful memories, the next four weeks flew by in a flurry of survival-mode living.
Taylor Swift has a holiday song titled, "Christmas Must Be Something More."
You see that the day holds something special
Something holy, not superficial
So here's to Jesus Christ
Who saved our lives . . .
I can't help but feel that it is another Christmas lost instead of one gained. I hope not to lose the next season too. Maybe two early January events will help me. The first is the inevitable review of the goals from last year and the setting of new. You'll have to pardon the seeming sarcasm--I really do believe in the setting and renewing of goals and find that it is a good exercise for me. The "inevitable" bit is just self-deprecating. If you have been reading here for a while then you know to predict certain things.
Here is last year's list (bold) with an overview of how I did.
1. I will balance my Mary and Martha tasks so that I gain a good
measure of both internal and external peace on a daily basis. I did better with this. When school and church gets really busy it becomes more difficult. I still like this goal a lot, but I'm starting to wonder if Sister Mary didn't have it right after all. My current calling is overwhelming in ways I would have never anticipated and I think that without a closer connection to the Spirit then I just don't have a chance of keeping my head above water.
I will have meaningful prayer at least once daily. I'm a work in progress. Very slow progress, but at least I think it is forward.
3. I will
continue my current course of scripture study, at least 5 days each
week, and earn my Personal Progress Award along with my study. Still trying. I need to take a closer look at my schedule and determine the quietest part of each day and fill it with this.
I will spend less time on the computer social networking, and more
time writing. By fall I want to have two manuscripts (one unfinished and
one in need of heavy revision) ready to send to a publisher. I did spend my computer time more productively, in general, but my schooling started up earlier, and perhaps more intensely, than anticipated. I fell short of my manuscript goal. I have to admit to taking some discouragement from my reviewers. Some of my drive is gone. I'm not sure what this means for the next step forward.
I will spend less time reading and more time exercising. Yes, really.
A friend and I are trying to put together a group to run a 200 mile
race in August in central Oregon. If it doesn't pan out, we still want
to do a half marathon in Portland in May. How do you put a raspberry sound into writing? PBBPTTTHHH!! After a fantastic start to the year, things fell apart quickly. We couldn't collect enough racers. Then I got sick (and everyone else did too!) and my careful routines disintegrated. Between my husband and I, church obligations ballooned and I didn't anticipate just how difficult my paper route would make a regular exercise regimen. Is that enough excuses? It is all I have.
6. I will study my
options and apply for colleges this spring; I will then decide by fall
whether or not I'm actually enrolling. One goal, done.
My 2012 list is forthcoming. I want to really think about it this year.
But on to the title, finally. Epiphany is a word I love. When I think of this word, I think of having a moment of inspiration or insight. It is not a bad way to describe a sudden and sometimes unexpected, spiritual experience. My desk calendar had the word "Epiphany" written in tiny script above the date last Friday--the place in the calendar reserved for holidays. I looked it up and, sure enough, Epiphany is a Christian holiday celebrated in Eastern Orthodoxy. It is to honor the magi coming to visit the Christ child. But the word comes from a Greek word with a more religious definition than I have ever ascribed to it, "manifestation or striking appearance" and is closely related to the word theophany, which is a manifestation of some deity to a person. (Joseph Smith's first vision is sometimes referred to as the Theophany.)
When I saw that word in my planner, I felt my heart leap in my chest. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a day set aside to receive a marvelous moment of spiritual insight. Almost like it was part of my to-do list. "Friday, I AM having an epiphany!"
But of course it didn't work that way. And it doesn't work that way.
As I think about my goals this year, I think this idea (ideal?) of epiphany is going to figure prominently. Never in my life have I needed the guidance of the Spirit so much. And yet, I know that I am not doing the things necessary to receive the regular manifestations that will keep me moving forward and allow me to serve to the degree I have been asked. Maybe my first step will be to write "epiphany" on my calendar every day, to keep my mind on the things of God.
It isn't just Christmas that must be something more.