Epiphany: Blessing for Those Who Have Far to Travel


Epiphany © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Epiphany, Years ABC: Matthew 2.1-12

Merry Christmas to you, still! Because Advent is always such a wonderfully intense time for me, with offering The Advent Door and being engaged in other holiday happenings, I usually arrive at Christmas Day quite spent and ready for a long winter’s nap. I am grateful that instead of being over on December 25, when I’m finally able to take a breath, Christmas is a season—a short one, to be sure, with only twelve days, but a season nonetheless, with its own rhythm and invitations.

This year, the days of Christmas have been for me a time of resting, connecting with family and friends, long walks in the beautiful Florida sunshine, and doing some dreaming about the year ahead. Though the coming months are sure to be marked by surprises, I want to enter the year with some sense of what I’d like for the path to look like, and where I’m feeling drawn to go.

The Christmas season ends with Epiphany, a feast day in which the early church celebrated Jesus’ brilliant manifestation (epiphaneia in Greek, also translated as “appearing”) not only to the Magi but also to the world through his birth, baptism, and first recorded miracle at the wedding at Cana. Eastern Christianity maintains this multifaceted celebration of Epiphany, while we in the West focus primarily on remembering and celebrating the arrival of the Magi, those mysterious and devoted Wise Men who traveled far to welcome the Christ and offer their gifts.

As we travel toward Epiphany and savor the final days of Christmas, this is a good time to ponder where we are in our journey. As we cross into the coming year, where do you find yourself on the path? Have you been traveling more by intention or by reacting to what’s come your way? What direction do you feel drawn to go in during the coming weeks and months? Is there anything you need to let go of—or to find—in order to take the next step? In the coming months, what gift do you most need to offer, that only you can give?

Blessings and traveling mercies to you as we approach Epiphany and the year to come. I look forward to walking with you.

For Those Who Have Far to Travel
An Epiphany Blessing

If you could see
the journey whole
you might never
undertake it;
might never dare
the first step
that propels you
from the place
you have known
toward the place
you know not.

Call it
one of the mercies
of the road:
that we see it
only by stages
as it opens
before us,
as it comes into
our keeping
step by
single step.

There is nothing
for it
but to go
and by our going
take the vows
the pilgrim takes:

to be faithful to
the next step;
to rely on more
than the map;
to heed the signposts
of intuition and dream;
to follow the star
that only you
will recognize;

to keep an open eye
for the wonders that
attend the path;
to press on
beyond distractions
beyond fatigue
beyond what would
tempt you
from the way.

There are vows
that only you
will know;
the secret promises
for your particular path
and the new ones
you will need to make
when the road
is revealed
by turns
you could not
have foreseen.

Keep them, break them,
make them again:
each promise becomes
part of the path;
each choice creates
the road
that will take you
to the place
where at last
you will kneel

to offer the gift
most needed—
the gift that only you
can give—
before turning to go
home by
another way.

P.S. For previous reflections on Epiphany here at The Painted Prayerbook, click the images or titles below. Also, the special holiday discount on annual subscriptions to Jan Richardson Images (the website that makes my work available for use in worship and education) will be available through Epiphany Day (January 6). For info, visit Jan Richardson Images.

Epiphany: Where the Map Begins

Feast of the Epiphany: Blessing the House

Feast of the Epiphany: A Calendar of Kings

The Feast of the Epiphany: Magi and Mystery

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

18 Responses to “Epiphany: Blessing for Those Who Have Far to Travel”

  1. carolyn sargent Says:

    Blessings of the season to you as well, Jan. ~ The blessing you offer makes me smile: the ‘why’ of that is cause to sit with, along with the inquiries in your piece – blessings in themselves as the threshold draws closer and closer ~ enjoy a sweet new year, one step at a time….

  2. Maureen Says:

    Lovely post and poem, Jan.

    Wishing you all the joys, delights, love, and success the new year brings.

    Thank you for offering your inspiration and your beautiful artwork during the year.

  3. Louisa Rogers Says:

    Beautiful! I was so moved by this, I copied it into my journal for times when I need a blessing (like now!). I feel a little unclear and discouraged this year-end about my life’s larger direction, and these words helped me to relax. Maybe confusion is part of the path, too. I can ‘be faithful to the next step’ and see what is revealed around the bend. May your year be full of wonders.

  4. Robin Maria Pedrero Says:

    Hi Jan! I am so very pleased to have received this today. I too get so worn out in December. This year I gained empathy for those with chronic illness.

    I have also felt a special joy about Epiphany and the Magi since childhood. I paint my vision of it often.

    Your gift is accepted with leaping joy like biting into nourishing food I feel blessed and sustained and more so affirmations in the present pieces I have been working on in my studio.

    I am glad you are in my world.

    Love,
    Robin

  5. Barbara Cairns Says:

    Hello Dear Jan,
    I like the others so have enjoyed this blessing as gift. It has been the ointment needed for a weary soul. I bless you and yours back for steps that lead towards the holy mystery.
    Barbara

  6. shantia Says:

    Thank you – my day tomorrow will be different thanks to you
    shantia

  7. christine hoffman Says:

    Thank you, Jan. The Methodist minister who married us, together with his wife, have a daughter they visit in China. They are soon to make their first visit to the USA. They will be staying with us in Sarasota at the time of the Feb. Wellspring so perhaps they might meet you. I’ve just shared your lovely post with him (Mike Walling).

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Many kind (and belated) thanks for this, Christine! Would be delighted to see y’all at Wellspring this evening and to meet Mike and his wife. Hope you’re having a splendid visit. Blessings!

  8. Rev. Lee Carlile Says:

    As always, your reflections offer wonderful insight. May I share your questions in your most recent Epiphany column (“Blessing For Those Who Have Far to Travel”) in an email with my congregation? I would like to them to prepare for the baptismal renewal service that comes next Sunday by thinking about those questions.

    May this year be one of great blessing for you and yours,
    Lee

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Thank you, Lee! Yes, I’d be delighted for you to use the questions in this way. All you need to do is mention the source, and if it suits to include a link to The Painted Prayerbook, that would be great.

      Thank you again, and many blessings to you and your congregation!

  9. Kirsten Borror Says:

    Hello Jan,
    I am glad to have found you and learn about your art and faith!
    There is a network of people like yourself called The Visual Story Network.
    I’m inviting you to join us!
    If you have questions, contact me.
    We have an event coming up in Feb: http://www.visualstorynetwork.org/events/art-in-mission-3-0 Bless you!

  10. Peronel Says:

    This spring, I walked the Camino to Santiago. This is perfect. Thank you.

  11. Kerri Peterson-Davis Says:

    thank you for your work and faithfulness. I shared your prayer today and worship and have posted it on my blog with a link to yours.

  12. Kirsten Borror Says:

    Thank you for that beautiful blessing. Did you write it?

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Kirsten, thanks so much for your comments here! I’m sorry I somehow missed responding at the time but wanted to let you know I really appreciated hearing from you. Yes, I wrote the blessing. Thanks also for sharing info about Visual Story Network.

      I’m grateful for your thoughtfulness! Thank you again, and blessings to you.

  13. Emily Wallace Says:

    Blessings of color, word and generosity! Thank you for your gifts and intent!

  14. Linda Springer Says:

    Jan, so thankful to find this beautiful blessing today. I was searching for something to send to a friend on a path of treatment for colon cancer, and currently traveling to Houston seeking another opinion. This blessing fits so perfectly how one must often take on day at a time and be attentive to each moment as it unfolds. Grace and peace to you, Linda

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Linda, thanks so much for your thoughtfulness! Great to hear from you. Deep blessings to your friend, and to you as well. Thank you again!

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