Archive for the ‘Epiphany’ Category

Epiphany: This Brightness That You Bear

January 2, 2014


Image: This Brightness That You Bear © Jan L. Richardson

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

They set out; and there, ahead of them,
went the star that they had seen at its rising,
until it stopped over the place where the child was.
—Matthew 2.9

Many of you know that my amazing husband, Garrison Doles, died unexpectedly at the beginning of Advent, after experiencing complications during what we had anticipated would be a fairly routine surgery in mid-November. (I invite you to read this remembrance and blessing I wrote for Gary, if you haven’t seen it.) I am so grateful for all those who encircled us from near and far while Gary was in the hospital, and who are continuing to encompass our family during this time of stunning heartbreak. Every prayer, every word, every good thought has been such a tremendous gift in this dark season.

Gary and I are astoundingly fortunate in our families, who in these past weeks have held the light for us in ways that I can barely begin to thank them for. But this Christmas, I wanted to make the attempt, to at least try to offer up some words to honor the extraordinary lengths they have gone to in order to walk this journey with us. I wrote a blessing for them; today’s image is for them as well. I gave these to them on Christmas Day.

On Christmas Day I also shared the blessing and artwork with those who joined me in the online Illuminated Advent Retreat, by way of thanks for how they traveled with me through a season that was so different than I had anticipated. For Epiphany, I want to share this with you. For the light you bear in this world: thank you. If you are in a dark season of your own, or know someone who is, may this come as a gift and a prayer that you will receive the light you need.

Blessings and gratitude to you as Epiphany draws near.

This Brightness That You Bear
A Blessing for My Family

This blessing
hardly knows what to say,
speechless as it is
not simply
from grief
but from the gratitude
that has come with it—

the thankfulness that sits
among the sorrow
and can barely begin
to tell you
what it means
not to be alone.

This blessing
knows the distances
you crossed
in person
in prayer
to enter into
days of waiting,
nights of long vigil.

It knows the paths
you traveled
to be here
in the dark.

Even in the shadows
this blessing
sees more than it can say
and has simply
come to show you
the light
that you have given

not to return it
to you
not to reflect it
back to you
but only to ask you
to open your eyes
and see
the grace of it,
the gift that shines
in this brightness
that you bear.


P.S.
I come bearing a few more Epiphany gifts for you…

CELEBRATING WOMEN’S CHRISTMAS
At my Sanctuary of Women site, you can find a brand-new retreat that I’ve designed for Women’s Christmas, which some folks celebrate on Epiphany. To learn more about Women’s Christmas and download the retreat (at no cost), click the image or link below.


Women’s Christmas: The Shimmering Hours


OTHER EPIPHANIES
For previous reflections for Epiphany, including “Blessing of the Magi,” click these images or the titles below.


Epiphany: Blessing of the Magi



Epiphany: Blessing for Those Who Have Far to Travel



Epiphany: Where the Map Begins



Feast of the Epiphany: Blessing the House


AND A FESTIVE DISCOUNT
In celebration of the season, the Advent discount on annual subscriptions to Jan Richardson Images (the website that makes my work available for use in worship) will be available through Epiphany Day (January 6). For info, visit:


Jan Richardson Images

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

Transfiguration Sunday: Dazzling

February 3, 2013


Image: They Saw His Glory © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Transfiguration Sunday, Year C: Luke 9:28-36 (37-43)

And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white…. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” —not knowing what he said. —Luke 9.29, 32-33

Dazzling
A Blessing for Transfiguration Sunday

Believe me, I know
how tempting it is
to remain inside this blessing,
to linger where everything
is dazzling
and clear.

We could build walls
around this blessing,
put a roof over it.
We could bring in
a table, chairs,
have the most amazing meals.
We could make a home.
We could stay.

But this blessing
is built for leaving.
This blessing
is made for coming down
the mountain.
This blessing
wants to be in motion,
to travel with you
as you return
to level ground.

It will seem strange
how quiet this blessing becomes
when it returns to earth.
It is not shy.
It is not afraid.

It simply knows
how to bide its time,
to watch and wait,
to discern and pray

until the moment comes
when it will reveal
everything it knows,
when it will shine forth
with all that it has seen,
when it will dazzle
with the unforgettable light
you have carried
all this way.


And also . . .

ONLINE LENTEN RETREAT: Gary and I would love to have you join us for the online retreat that we’ll be offering for Lent. If you’re longing for an experience that draws you into the season without feeling like it’s just one more thing to add to your Lenten schedule, this retreat is for you.  Intertwining reflection, art, music, and community, this retreat is a great way to travel toward Easter in contemplation and conversation, from anywhere you are. Group discounts available! Begins February 13. For info and registration, click this icon:

For previous reflections for Transfiguration Sunday, click the images or titles below:


Transfiguration: Back to the Drawing Board


Transfiguration Sunday: Show and (Don’t) Tell

And I have one more image for Transfiguration Sunday at Jan Richardson Images:


Transfiguration II

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

Epiphany 4: The Greatest of These

January 27, 2013


Image: The Greatest of These © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Epistles, Epiphany 4, Year C: 1 Corinthians 13.1-13

Now I know only in part; then I will know fully,
even as I have been fully known.
And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three;
and the greatest of these is love.

—1 Corinthians 13.12b-13

Blessing that Opens Its Heart to You

You have seen
the impostors
trying to masquerade
as this blessing,
how they cloak themselves
with words
that look so much
like what you longed for
while beneath
they are hollow.

This blessing
has come to tell you
do not be discouraged
do not be dismayed
do not berate yourself
for where you have been
searching,
for the wisdom that comes
along what seems
a foolish road.

You will know this blessing
by how it opens its heart
to you.
You will know this blessing
by how it turns its face
toward you.
You will know this blessing
by how it approaches you
arm in arm with faith
and hope.

You will know this blessing
not by the ease it offers you
but by what it asks of you:
patience and kindness
forbearance and belief
hope and endurance
and more

not because this is what
you owe
but because this is what
this blessing stirs in you,
what it provides for you,
what it pours into your hands
that you suddenly
find open

like your heart
that unfolds itself
in welcome,
finally knowing
and fully known.


ONLINE LENTEN RETREAT:
Are you hungry for an experience that draws you into Lent without feeling like it’s just one more thing to add to your schedule? Gary and I would love for you to join us for this online retreat that will intertwine reflection, art, music, and community. A great way to travel toward Easter in contemplation and conversation, from anywhere you are. Group discounts available! Begins February 13. For info and registration, click this icon:

And for a reflection on the Gospel reading for Epiphany 4, click the image or title below:


Epiphany 4: Get Real

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

Epiphany 3: To Proclaim Release

January 20, 2013


Image: To Proclaim Release © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Epiphany 3, Year C: Luke 4.14-21

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because God has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
God has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,

to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

—Luke 4.18-19

A Prophet’s Blessing

This blessing
finds its way
behind the bars.
This blessing
works its way
beneath the chains.
This blessing
knows its way
through a broken heart.
This blessing
makes a way
where there is none.

Where there is
no light,
this blessing.
Where there is
no hope,
this blessing.
Where there is
no peace,
this blessing.
Where there is
nothing left,
this blessing.

In the presence
of hate.
In the absence
of love.
In the torment
of pain.
In the grip
of fear.

To the one
in need.
To the one
in the cell.
To the one
in the dark.
To the one
in despair.

Let this blessing come
as bread.
Let this blessing come
as release.
Let this blessing come
as sight.
Let this blessing come
as freedom.

Let this blessing come.

P.S. I’m delighted to share the news that my book In Wisdom’s Path has recently come out in a beautiful hardcover version! With color artwork throughout, In Wisdom’s Path is a companion through the seasons of the sacred year. For info and to order, click the cover below. (This will take you to the Books page at janrichardson.com.) Inscribed copies available by request!

And for a previous reflection on this passage, click the image or title below:


Epiphany 3: Fulfilled in Your Hearing

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

Epiphany 2: Blessing the Water, the Wine

January 13, 2013


Image: Water into Wine © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Epiphany 2, Year C: John 2.1-11

Blessing the Water, the Wine

You thought
you had learned
to live with the empty,
the hollow.

You could place your ear
against the rim
of the vessel
of your life
and hear its ringing echo
with equanimity,
not expecting
any more
not even bothered
(almost)
to be a bystander
at the feast—
if not delighting
in the celebration
at least not
despairing in it.

When the water
rushed into the emptiness
you were surprised
that you were surprised,
that you could even feel
the sudden wellspring
when you thought
all had been poured out.

And then suddenly
the sweetness
that stuns you
that tells you
this was not all,
this was not the end

that this blessing
was saving the best
for last.

P.S. For an earlier reflection on this text, click the image or title below:


Epiphany 2: Marriage and Miracles

See also my “Wedding at Cana” image, which first appeared in the Christian Century magazine:

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

 

Baptism of Jesus: Washed

January 9, 2013


Image: Washed © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Epiphany 1/Baptism of Jesus, Year C: Luke 3.15-17, 21-22

Blessing the Baptism

As if we could call you
anything other than
beloved
and blessed

drenched as we are
in our love for you

washed as we are
by our delight in you

born anew as we are
by the grace that flows
from the heart of the one
who bore you to us.

P.S. In my previous reflection on Luke’s account of Jesus’ baptism, I shared Janet Wolf’s story about the baptism of Fayette. If you don’t know the story, please don’t miss it! Fayette’s story continues to bless and haunt me as it challenges me to think about what the sacrament of baptism really means. Click the image or title below to visit that post.


Epiphany 1: Baptized and Beloved

I also have several other reflections and images for the Baptism of Jesus and hope you’ll visit them:


Baptism of Jesus: Following the Flow


Epiphany 1: Take Me to the River


Epiphany 1: Ceremony (with a Side of Cake)

 

For related artwork, you can find these pieces at the Jan Richardson Images website:

With the Spirit and Fire
With the Spirit and Fire


Baptism of Jesus

 

And if you don’t know about the new retreat that I recently released for Women’s Christmas 2013, which you can use anytime (not just on Women’s Christmas!), you can read about it and download the retreat as a PDF (at no cost) by visiting the link below. It’s been wonderful to hear from folks who are using it for their personal reflection or with a group.

Wise Women Also Came
Women’s Christmas: The Map You Make Yourself

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

A Women’s Christmas Gift for You

January 4, 2013


Image: Wise Women Also Came © Jan L. Richardson

These three wise women are stopping by with a gift for you. In celebration of Women’s Christmas, which is observed in some parts of the world on Epiphany/January 6, I’ve created a retreat for you. Designed for you to use on Women’s Christmas or whenever you need a space of respite and reflection, the retreat (which you can download as a PDF) offers readings, art, and blessings that invite you to take a pilgrimage into your own life.

There’s no cost for the retreat; it’s a Women’s Christmas gift especially for you! You’re welcome to share it with friends. For a link to the retreat and more about Women’s Christmas, visit this page at my Sanctuary of Women blog:

Women’s Christmas: The Map You Make Yourself

A Merry Women’s Christmas and Blessed Epiphany to you!

Epiphany: Blessing of the Magi

December 30, 2012


Image: By Another Road © Jan L. Richardson

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

And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they left for their own country by another road.
—Matthew 2.12

Blessing of the Magi

There is no reversing
this road.
The path that bore you here
goes in one direction only,
every step drawing you
down a way
by which you will not
return.

You thought arrival
was everything,
that your entire journey
ended with kneeling
in the place
you had spent all
to find.

When you laid down
your gift,
release came with such ease,
your treasure tumbling
from your hands
in awe and
benediction.

Now the knowledge
of your leaving
comes like a stone laid
over your heart,
the familiar path closed
and not even the solace
of a star
to guide your way.

You will set out in fear
you will set out in dream

but you will set out

by that other road
that lies in shadow
and in dark.

We cannot show you
the route that will
take you home;
that way is yours
and will be found
in the walking.

But we tell you
you will wonder
at how the light you thought
you had left behind
goes with you,
spilling from
your empty hands,
shimmering beneath
your homeward feet,
illuminating the road
with every step
you take.

P.S. I have a few more Epiphany treats for you!

First: At my Sanctuary of Women site, you can find a brand-new retreat that I’ve designed for Women’s Christmas, which some folks celebrate on Epiphany. To learn more about Women’s Christmas and download the retreat (at no cost), click the image or link below.

Women’s Christmas: The Map You Make Yourself

Then: For previous reflections for Epiphany, including “Blessing for Those Who Have Far to Travel,” click this image or title:

Epiphany: Blessing for Those Who Have Far to Travel

And for the final treat: The special Advent discount on annual subscriptions to Jan Richardson Images (the website that makes my work available for use in worship) will be available through Epiphany Day (January 6). For info, visit:

Jan Richardson Images

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

Epiphany 6: What the Light Shines Through

February 5, 2012


Testimony © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Epiphany 6, Year B: Mark 1.40-45

Last week the news came that a friend of mine has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. It is large, and it is grim; the doctors measure his life in months, perhaps weeks. A stained glass artist who has devoted his life to finding beautiful ways to capture light, Joe—making his own path as ever—is finding other ways to measure and mark these remaining days. The threads of community that he has tended across the years in such places as the Grünewald Guild are gathering around him now to support him and to make it possible for him to be in places he loves; friends and family have enabled him to return to his home and studio at the artists’ community where he lives, and folks from the Guild are plotting a trip where they’ll bring Joe back up there.

Living on the other side of the country, I am missing being present for this but am grateful for the words that come across the miles, words that tell of how Joe is entering his dying in much the same way that he has entered his living. The tumor has impacted his speech and visual recognition skills. But a note comes from a friend who writes of how even when Joe struggles with words, “he seems, to me, even more himself than ever. He’s almost translucent with grace. And I have been so moved by the ‘random’ words that, at times, come instead of the one he’s trying for. It’s almost as if the words that he has most often expressed come easily; blessing, blest, grace, friends, church, my voice, your voice…”

I gather up these words as I ponder the words that Mark offers in the reading from his Gospel this week, words about a leper who finds healing in his encounter with Jesus. “If you choose, you can make me clean,” he says to Jesus. Stretching out his hand and touching him, Jesus says, “I do choose. Be made clean!”

It is a mystery to me how Jesus chooses, and where, and why. I cannot fathom how he chooses at times to stretch out his hand, and at other times seems to withhold it; how he chooses against the restoration that he offers with such ease in stories such as this one. Why the leper, and not Joe? Why the mother-in-law of Simon, as we saw last week, and not millions of others across the ages who have lived with illness and pain?

I know, of course, there are few answers to these questions in this lifetime. And I know that it is better to look for the miracles that do come, including the daily wonders of connection in the midst of a world that pushes us toward isolation, the marvels of friendship and community that return to us and gather around us when life breaks us open.

I do not let Christ off the hook for the ways he sometimes chooses. And yet I think about my friend across the country, speaking the words that have come most easily to him. Blessing. Blest. Grace. How in the midst of the tumor that grows and the days that dwindle, there is something in him that is fiercely intact and persistently whole. Friends. Church. That knows still how to capture the light. My voice. Your voice. That rises up to freely proclaim, to offer testimony in the luminous way he has always done and will do until the last breath leaves him.

Joe is having an exhibit at his studio this weekend, wanting to have this chance to share with friends his artwork from across the years. “Bring food. Bring joy,” Joe says in the invitation.

This day. This hour. In each moment given to us, may we bring sustenance. May we bring joy. Whatever illness we bear, whatever wounds we carry, may we be ministers of healing to one another, and may the wholeness that persists within us rise up and shine through, offering testimony in the ways that only we can offer.

What the Light Shines Through
A Healing Blessing

For Joe

Where pain
does not touch you.
Where hurt
does not make its home.
Where despair
does not haunt you.
Where sorrow
does not dwell.

Where disease
does not possess you.
Where death
does not abide.
Where horror
does not hold you.
Where fear
does not raise its head.

Where your wounds
become doorways.
Where your scars
become sacred maps.
Where tears
become pools of gladness.
Where delight
attends your way.

Where every kindness
you have offered
returns to you.
Where each blessing
you have given
makes its way back
to you.
Where every grace
gathers around you.
Where the face of love
mirrors your gaze.

Where you are
what the light
shines through.


Joe in the studio. Photo by Kristen Gilje.

P.S. For a previous reflection on this passage, visit The Medium and the Message.

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

Epiphany 5: Healing and Feasting

January 29, 2012


The Domestic God © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Epiphany 5, Year B: Mark 1.29-39

In a parallel universe, where there are thirty hours in a day, perhaps my parallel self has completed a new reflection and artwork for this week. In this universe, however, with its mere twenty-four-hour days, I’ve been devoting my studio hours to preparing some Lenten fare to accompany you during the soon-arriving season. I am already, as ever, surprised by where the Lenten texts are taking me, and I look forward to sharing the path through the coming season with you.

My Lenten immersion, along with preparing for some upcoming events, has left me sans new reflection. But I do have a previous reflection on this passage; please visit it here:

The Domestic God

I especially want to recommend Mary Ann Tolbert’s insights into this gospel passage, which have influenced my thinking about this text and which I briefly quote in the reflection.

This week offers two feast days that are good companions to the gospel reading. February 1 brings us the Feast of Saint Brigid, the beloved Celtic saint who was a light for the early church in Ireland and who worked many miracles of healing. February 2 is Candlemas, also known as the Feast of the Presentation or the Feast of the Purification of Mary. For reflections on these days, which are among my favorites of the year, click on the images or titles below.

Provision and Plenitude: Feast of Saint Brigid
(New at my Sanctuary of Women blog)

Feast of the Presentation/Candlemas

Wishing you many blessings and a festive week!

P.S. Speaking of upcoming events, I invite you to visit my calendar on my main website: see Calendar. Be sure to check out the Liturgical Arts Week that Gary and I will be involved with at the Grünewald Guild this summer. I’ll be the keynote speaker, and Gary and I will teach a class especially designed for preachers, worship leaders, liturgical artists, and anyone else who would like to dive into the texts for the Advent season. We’d love to have you join us at the wondrous Guild!

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