That was her name. Epiphany. She wore no name tag. I asked her name a few days before when I’d handed her my parking ticket and credit card at the MGH parking garage where she cashiered. This time friendship interrupted function with,”How’s your husband doing?” We chatted a little, since the line behind me kept growing, then Epiphany’s dark eyes flashed and she leaned in and said, “You shouldn’t be paying all this money to park. You need to go over to…..and get approval for the discounted rate and….”
Epiphany. She and I had one, “a sudden and profound understanding of something.” In this case, it was an understanding of how the system works but also that connections are possible between two strangers if each cares even a little bit. She, caring enough to ask about Jud, then introduce me to the system and I, simply asking her name a few days before, then caring enough to remember it and call her by name in the days that followed. Small stuff.
Or is it?
Last night Luke, Basil and I finished reading aloud Barbara Robinson’s The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Seeing the Christmas story through the eyes of the unchurched Herdman children became an epiphany, of sorts. Initially, they’d come to Sunday School only because another kid, Charlie, frustrated at Leroy Herdman stealing the dessert from his school lunch each day said,” Oh, go on and take it. I don’t care. I get all the dessert I want in Sunday School.” Charlie went on to list all the things they got at Sunday School:” candy bars, cookies, Kool-Aid, ice cream, doughnuts and popcorn balls!” Leroy Herdman yelled,”You’re a liar!” Leroy was right but Charlie didn’t back down and next thing you know, six beat-up Herdmans slithered into Sunday School and found themselves smack dab in the heart of the Christmas story.
It’s impossible for me to read this story without hearing the booming voice of Dr. Peter Stine, Professor of English at Gordon College for 40 years before his death. For many years his oral interpretation of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever held a significant place in Christmas at Gordon. I encourage you to read it aloud with someone.
For any of you who’ve ever been in charge of a Christmas pageant, forced to wear or make angel wings or show up in public tripping over your dad’s bathrobe as a faux shepherd, this book’s for you. But for any of us who need a fresh look at the Christmas story, on this day of Epiphany, January 6, 2016, I recommend seeing it through the eyes of Imogene and Leroy Herdman, a couple of throwaway kids who take on the roles of Mary and Joseph. Leroy, Claude and Ollie Herdman sign-on as the Three Wise Men, leaving Gladys, the youngest and meanest Herdman, to represent the Angel of the Lord and somehow, these six rejects give a church full of ho-hums one big epiphany.
And who couldn’t use one of those.
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