Inviting Epiphany

Wise Women Also Came © Jan L. Richardson

I’m working on a reflection for the gospel lection for Epiphany, but in the meantime, I offer you this festive trio to get the celebration under way. Wise Women Also Came was one of the first collages I did when I started to discover, many years ago, that there was an artist lurking in me. I created this as my Epiphany (i.e., belated Christmas) card the year I graduated from seminary. I made it out of plain construction paper; this was before I had discovered the wondrous world of art papers. (A trip to The Japanese Paper Place, now simply called The Paper Place, while visiting my sister in Toronto changed all that; you could say that walking into its stunning space was, well, an epiphany.)

These wise women made their way onto the cover of my first book, which I was writing during the same time that I was getting to know my inner artist. They also made an appearance in Night Visions, my first book to wed my writing and my artwork. This time a poem accompanied the women:

Wise Women Also Came

Wise women also came.
The fire burned
in their wombs
long before they saw
the flaming star
in the sky.
They walked in shadows,
trusting the path
would open
under the light of the moon.

Wise women also came,
seeking no directions,
no permission
from any king.
They came
by their own authority,
their own desire,
their own longing.
They came in quiet,
spreading no rumors,
sparking no fears
to lead
to innocents’ slaughter,
to their sister Rachel’s
inconsolable lamentations.

Wise women also came,
and they brought
useful gifts:
water for labor’s washing,
fire for warm illumination,
a blanket for swaddling.

Wise women also came,
at least three of them,
holding Mary in the labor,
crying out with her
in the birth pangs,
breathing ancient blessings
into her ear.

Wise women also came,
and they went,
as wise women always do,
home a different way.

Next week, in the wake of an intense season of travels and other endeavors, I’ll resume working on a new book. It’s something of a sequel to Sacred Journeys, the book I was writing when these wise women took shape. Though I rarely find writing easy (when folks ask me if I enjoy writing, I usually say, “I enjoy having written”), I’m looking forward to reentering the rhythm of working on a book in a focused fashion. It seems an opportune time to revisit these wise women as I seek a blessing for the path, and the book, ahead. I wonder who will show up this time, and what epiphanies they will have in store.

Who have been the wise women in your life? What epiphanies have they instigated? Here at the ending of the year, what wisdom do you want to gather up from the past twelve months and take with you into the coming year? What blessing, what gifts, do you need to receive for the path ahead? What gifts do you need to offer, that only you can give?

Peace to you in this time of turning.

[To use this image, please visit this page at Your use of helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!]

6 Responses to “Inviting Epiphany”

  1. Carolyn Says:

    Ah…I know these wise women; they -and their creator – were among the first to broaden the lens through which I looked at the landscapes in my life, biblical and personal. It is in part thanks to them that multiple layers were added to what -and how – I could glean from all of those long ago stories, how I could linger and learn, how I could benefit, enter the world of transformation and share the lessons: it’s been ‘quite a trip’….and I am so grateful.

    Thanks, ladies!

    May 2009 unfold in bountiful ways, for each and all of us.

  2. Tess Says:

    I LOVE this, both the concept and the illustration. The phrases that stood out for me in the poem were “they came by their own authority” and “useful gifts”.
    What a gift you’ve given us, and continue to give.
    With wishes for beauty in 2009 for you.

  3. lucy Says:

    i love the collage! happy new year, jan!!!

  4. Sunrise Sister Says:

    Blessings and prayers for copious and meaningful language to flow from your pen (your laptop, you pencil). Your artpieces are an inspiration to me – you writings lovely. Thank you for sharing them both.

  5. Kristin Says:

    I love your approach to Epiphany. Your work has inspired me. I’ve been writing a meditation on the Gospel each week for several years now, and your blog makes me want to experiment with art as I contemplate each week’s Gospel. Thanks for that.

  6. Ann Says:

    Your work shared with me by my friend Jenny is an Epiphany indeed, focusing my awareness on how to channel opportunities to serve Christ in vital ways that do not always seem relevant…Thank you so much for this inspiring message.

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