One of the most powerful experiences for me of late was my recent visit to the wall in Bethlehem. As I walked alongside it and touched the concrete barrier between Palestinians and Israelis, I also found myself in unexpected awe of the subversive and beautiful graffiti that colored this symbol of intimidation. There were so many profound messages of hope in various languages, each called us to remember our shared humanity. And there was this star, too, that caused me great pause- to remember there is no darkness to which light cannot penetrate.
On this Epiphany, I am reminded of the many ways God has shown up in the most unexpected people and places. These sacred encounters have led to holy pauses and dared me to travel different roads than previously dreamed or imagined. While these roads have had their share of difficulties, much like the Magi, I have also been doubtlessly “overwhelmed by joy” as I find the presence of Christ amidst the pilgrimage (Matthew 2:10).
I read the other day wise words from mystic Teresa of Ávila:
[God’s] appeals come through the conversations of good people, or from sermons, or through the reading of good books, and there are many other ways, of which you have heard, in which God calls is. Or they come through sicknesses and trials, or by means of truths which God teaches us at times when we engaged in prayer; however feeble such prayers may be, God values them highly (Interior Castle, p. 24-25).
In the midst of so many reasons to despair these days, may Epiphany be a call to holy pause as we look up and out to where the joy of Christ may be found. May we have our eyes and ears open to the appearances of God with Us through friendly conversations, thoughtful proclamations, good books, brilliant films, and even humble prayers, some which show up as graffiti on walls of division and oppression. In the end, may we dare to carve out new roads of liberation and love.