At the beginning of January, the church celebrated Epiphany. Epiphany represents the day the three magi arrived to worship the Christ child. Not everyone realizes the Christmas story, often told, is a composite from three different gospels, all rolled into one. Instead, the scholars tell us it was two years after Jesus’ birth when the magi actually arrived.
While still looking for Jesus, the magi stopped and asked Herod, ruler of Judea, where this amazing baby who would become king, could be found. As is often the tale, the threat of losing power persuaded Herod to encourage the magi to return to him and reveal the location of the special child. Forewarned in a dream, they were told to travel back to their homelands differently to avoid Herod.
I have my own Epiphany story which began forty-nine years ago, on my wedding day. We didn’t look at the calendar and chose January 6, which was Epiphany. We picked it for convenience. I’d finished college in December, followed by Christmas activities. My husband, Byron, was in graduate school and had a class schedule to follow. Living together wasn’t an option, renting two apartments was expensive, and it made little sense for me to search for a job while living at home for only a few months.
The morning after the wedding, we headed to the Black Hills for a romantic honeymoon in a cabin near lake Pactola, which had a fireplace to cozy up to and a dinner restaurant nearby. The first premonition that perhaps our plans were not the most well thought through was the fact that our car didn’t start the morning after our wedding.
When we arrived at our cabin, it was freezing cold. The manager had screwed up the reservation and the heat (wires around the baseboards) was not turned on. Our lovely fireplace was unusable because we had only newspapers and huge logs. Without a hatchet or axe, we couldn’t cut the large pieces into medium-sized logs that would ignite and burn. At least, we told ourselves, a nice dinner at the fancy restaurant next to the cabins would warm us up. Only it was closed.
Our car wouldn’t start as usual the next morning, (We eventually took the battery out at nights and put it in the bathroom.) so for breakfast we ate some of our survival food of Spam, Tang, and popcorn. Then, once we got the car going, we realized we couldn’t find our traveler’s checks. It was also interesting to note, tourist towns in South Dakota go into shutdown during winter months, so we ate in the small cafes with the locals. At the end of the week, it was time to find our way home.
So, what, you might wonder, do the magi and a honeymooning couple have in common? At the end of each major event the stories both continue with the travel to home. Only home would look very different upon arrival when the magi travelled two more years to return to their homeland. I had made a commitment to my now husband to live the rest of my life by his side.
How could home not have changed when both the magi and I stepped into new worlds? But then, when I think about it, home is always changing because our lives aren’t static, fixed, or stagnant. Life is dynamic and even small things change or influence us.. Home is no longer the same because we aren’t the same. It happens all the time, throughout our lives.
The home I grew up in was not always a safe place and not a nurturing environment. And once I left for college, everything changed. My relationship with my mother became very different. Through the years, the path home kept changing as I faced my past, redefined my relationship with family, and become more whole emotionally.
How has your “home” changed? Did you enter home differently when you brought your new baby from the hospital? How did it feel when the noises of a house were silenced? What emotions did you feel when you realized your parents had gotten old and couldn’t care for themselves? I traveled home only to find it changed, or I’d changed without realizing it. We all travel home on new paths.
Where is Home?
But home and going home is more than a place, a building, or a country. My home of origin is long gone. There is also a home within each of us. Often and for many of us, more difficult, to find that the brick-and-mortar type of house we call home.
I needed to figure out how to come home to myself. To the center of my being and determine what was my personal truth. To know, value, and celebrate all the parts of who I was and am—even my less desirable parts. Long ago I lost my way home, trying to become the person I thought I should be to be liked. “Tell me who you want me to be, and I will try to be that person for you.” That was my mantra until one night I realized I didn’t have a clue who I was anymore. It was time to find my way home and realize it would look different from what it had in a long time.
What does home look like for you?
Coming home is about being honest with self. That means seeing one’s self through loving eyes, not other people’s or society’s eyes. It is about seeing the goodness within yourself.
What stories do you hold within that are about going home, going home in a new way, or finding home within you? I encourage you to spend some time reflecting on the journeys.
this is what I know today,