I have had a second friend/teacher transition in the past five months. I suppose this could be an epiphany of sorts or it could be a way to push me forward on my own, no one else to lean on and standing on my own two feet. As in the past!
I was always a strong woman. One with ideals and ideas; one who didn’t hesitate to stand up and do what was right for the greater good. Confidant outwardly, yet willing to admit my own weaknesses to myself if there was no one else to admit them to. I rather liken that to why I am writing this blog. Not sure if it’s for me or for others to read over and revisit a thought process or practice in philosophy. Um…..that would be an epiphany, I believe.
Traditionally the Feast of Epiphany in the Catholic Church (from whence I have evolved) was about a visit to the infant Jesus by three Kings, Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthazar (aka the three wise guys). And as I see it, this is what an epiphany in fact is…..revisiting a thought or assumption with renewed vision, or Wisdom. These three Wise Men or Magi, mark the end of the official Christmas season today, but marked a beginning so many years ago. And so we have a beginning and an end.
My friend was a priest for whom I worked. He was my boss, my mentor, the proverbial thorn in my side, and my friend. For my part I was an inquisitive student, challenging him along the way, and pushing my boundaries as employee at times, but through it all we were each able to remain friends. Mutual respect for the giftedness of the other colored the essence and bond of friendship. There was an understanding of how to work together to create and weave liturgy and music into an experience that spoke to the assembled believers and spoke to each other as well. Many, many talks were had and these often led to an epiphany of one sort or another. And so things went on for each of us in different ways as my family moved to a different part of the country and my friend eventually retired from his everyday job as Pastor and became a retreat leader.
He was a gifted celebrant and those who knew him well hoped he would live long enough to preside and preach at our own funerals. And so the title of this piece…the Great Epiphany for those who knew and loved C. Donald Howard, S.A. have to face the wisdom that has surfaced – That the loss of self is to miss out on the wisdom that would have been sought. A true epiphany.