Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Open Your Heart to Epiphany

This past Sunday at my church, Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Charlottesville Virginia, our minister, Reverend Scott Davis talked about the Epiphany in a way I had never heard it described before. Scott delivers wonderful and enlightening messages to help us reflect on how we live our lives as part of our community. In every “sermon” he delivers, there is a powerful takeaway rooted in story.

Historically, Epiphany is the 12th day of Christmas and commemorates the visit of the three wise men to the newborn Jesus. We often use the word “epiphany” interchangeably with “surprise” or “discovery.” Scott turned this idea around by telling the story of the origin of 3-Michelin star chef Massimo Bottura - Oops! I dropped the lemon tart recipe. In the video in the link I provided, Bottura explains that there is poetry all around us, and we should always be ready to see things that others don’t imagine. Thanks to this paradigm, he created a new lemon tart recipe from a disastrous mistake on the part of his student. He turned a failure into an opportunity to innovate and to teach compassion and forgiveness.

According to Reverend Davis, an epiphany is not an extrinsic surprise. If we are open to creativity, we sense the world around us in a different way and see opportunities to lift others with positive changes. These chances to help others see beauty in our everyday world are all around us. We just have to open our hearts.

Scott’s story reminded me of a pleasant surprise I had on the Sunday after thanksgiving. I was washing my truck out in the driveway. It was a little after 5:00 in the evening; the orange sun was low, and it was getting a little chilly, so I was rushing to finish when something caught my eye.

A few years ago I spread river rock in some of the beds around our house. There is a patch of it between the garage and the driveway. I was reeling out an electrical cord to run the shop vac, and I saw what I thought was a little white rock smiling up at me from among the others in the patch. I did a double-take. Sometimes shadows can make a pattern, but sure enough there was indeed a pebble grinning up at me from the rocky bed as if someone had drawn a face on it with a sharpie. I felt a little silly when I realized I was smiling back at the rock.

I looked around for more, pacing slowly around the house, and there were half-a-dozen of them in various places. As I picked up one near the deck, I could see Lainey, my twelve-year-old, in the window. Her beaming face told me all I needed to know. I waved to her; she waved back.

Before finishing up with the truck, I pulled one of our red plastic lawn chairs out in the driveway and – still grinning – sat and watched as the last bit of sun set behind the leafless trees. I could hear a train rumbling off in the distance. I admit, my eyes welled a little as I thought about Lainey, and how joyful she is. I take things too seriously, so seriously that I can fail to see the poetry, the epiphanies around me.

Lainey was reminding me to be on the lookout, to be creative, to open my heart.