Magic light

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One of our oldest ornaments, the little pine cone house.

We bought this on a cold November trip to visit one of my sisters when she was in college in Minnesota and we were first married. We flew standby, which was easier back then. Our first house, in the Piedmont woods of central North Carolina, was about this size. Cozy.

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This morning the light from the rising sun came low and far into the living room and sparkled parts of the Christmas tree. The light led my eyes to certain ornaments and sparked thoughts and memories.

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It is Epiphany. I bet the Magi wish they had a magic horse like this when they were traveling very far.

The word Epiphany is from Koine Greek ἐπιφάνεια, epipháneia, meaning manifestation or appearance. It is derived from the verb φαίνειν, phainein, meaning “to appear.” In classical Greek it was used of the appearance of dawn, of an enemy in war, but especially of a manifestation of a deity to a worshiper (a theophany). In the Septuagint the word is used of a manifestation of the God of Israel (2 Maccabees 15:27). In the New Testament the word is used in 2 Timothy 1:10 to refer either to the birth of Christ or to his appearance after his resurrection, and five times to refer to his Second Coming.

Alternative names for the feast in Greek include τα Θεοφάνια, ta Theopháneia “Theophany” (a neuter plural rather than feminine singular), η Ημέρα των Φώτων, i Iméra ton Fóton (modern Greek pronunciation), hē Hēméra tōn Phṓtōn (restored classical pronunciation), “The Day of the Lights”, and τα Φώτα, ta Fóta, “The Lights”.

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In the morning, the light moves and shines here and there, illuminating, getting me to look. I looked at books. They are a little like the tree ornaments, recalling things we did, learned and enjoyed… and things we love.

Going to church at 11 a.m.

Something to listen to for Epiphany: Bach’s church cantata Sie werden aus Saba all kommen. I need more Bach in my life.

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Adoration of the Magi, by He Qi. (Link.)

Golden home

Wentworth-Coolidge MansionThe colonial-era Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion, in Portsmouth, NH this afternoon. (Click through to read more about this location or to purchase the photo.)

It snowed lightly this morning. Then the clouds dusted off and left us with the freshest, brightest early-January light. In shadow, the snow is a pale lilac blue. How appropriate in this place, where the first purple lilacs in North America were planted – and still survive, in winter sleep. In sunshine, the old home of New Hampshire’s first governor shone gold.

Today is Epiphany. The word is from the Koine Greek: ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, “manifestation”, “striking appearance.” The three wise men arrive in Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus. In Bulgaria, men dive in icy water for crucifixes. In other lands, cakes are baked, processions are held, gifts are given, horses are raced. In Tarpon Springs, Florida, one Greek Orthodox teenage girl is chosen dove bearer. She carries the white bird in a procession to Spring Bayou where she releases it as the teenage boys dive for a sunken cross.

At our local church, it was all about the three wise men and their gifts today. “What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb. If I were a wise man I would do my part. Yet what can I give him? Give my heart.”

Music: We Three Kings

What are your gifts? To whom are they given?