1.08.2008

Epiphany Fun::Why I am a Catholic Groupie

This weekend was Epiphany and we celebrated in high style at the Adler Manse. The lovely Mrs. Adler is responsible for first bringing this holiday to my attention a few years ago and I owe her unending thanks; at the very least, a new copy of her Madeline L'Engle poetry that G felt must be mutilated with an ink pen. (She definitely has the courage of her convictions.)
Low-Church Upbringing
In former times, (I sound like an ESL German person) I thought Advent was the name of a kind of calendar, and I thought epiphanies were merely synonymous with "eureka!", with vague religious overtones. I grew up pretty low-church, meeting in a school gym, with a rickety overhead projector that featured songs written in transparency marker, the guitar chords usually included. It was like camp, but I didn't know that then. It was just church. I liked it. All the essentials were there, and I managed to walk away, more or less, from my church upbringing with 4 important ideas:
1) Everything (in the created order) is amazing & beautiful.
2) God made everything.
3)God knows who I am
4)He loves me anyway,( and very much.)
And it was these 4 things that worked on me and changed me intrinsically when I first moved away from home. I was living in Hawai'i: 18 years old, bored, desperately homesick, and away from any Christian influence for the first time. Also I was- finally- a licensed driver. So I drove around, alone, and quiet (this was a first too) and over time the above 4 points worked their way into me through the blue sky and green sea, the red dirt and jagged mountain outlines of Kaua'i. I was undone. I am still undone.
Since then I have added things to the scaffold of my faith-things I've found while nosing around in old books, old churches, and old friends. A lot of hymns and poetry (thank you John Donne) mainly, plus some different types of worship, not to mention indulgences, hair shirts, foot-washing and snake-wrangling.
High Holy Day
It feels a bit like I've tried to squeeze everything I can out of Christmas; it's all feasting and revelry and bells and smells and then it's gone. And I resent any little bit of time that all the other stuff (the cultural parts of Christmas) takes from my feasting....("Excuse me? You want us to go to your Candy Cane Fairy Queen Light Parade? Do you know that this is our High Holy Feast Day of the year?".....like I'd really say that. But still.) By the time Epiphany comes around, things have died down a little, I'm casting around for something to do and I am glad to take up Epiphany or 'Little Christmas', as the Irish call it.
The holiday is officially on January 6, and Twelfth Night is actually Epiphany Eve, that is, twelve days after Christmas Eve. The word 'epiphany' really means manifestation and some churches celebrate Jesus' first miracle, or his baptism. However, for most churches around the world Epiphany refers to his revelation to the Magi, and so to the Gentile world (that's me!)
It's such a mellower version of Christmas, and it's totally under the radar of the Christmas Machine. So you can actually just celebrate it without any pressure from the shops to buy their Telly Tubby Wise Men, or Bratz Epiphany Slut-Queens.
This holiday has strong Mexican Catholic influences, and since SC (and California in general) has such a strong Mexican American presence, we had a deep well to draw from, including an enormous King Cake, which is a Mexican cake with little plastic baby Jesus' baked in (baked-in Goodness!) Our little babies were white and pot-bellied, sort of swollen-bellied aliens, victims of some horrible Martian famine......
We made crowns, read poetry and sang all 300 verses of 'We Three Kings', and ate lots of Turkish Delight ("Full of Eastern Promise!"). Erin couldn't resist buying Milky Way bars and Starburst-the party was star-themed, as well as vaguely Middle-Eastern. What fun. I love my friends, now even more that they are willing to wear goofy hats and celebrate obscure holidays. I just can't wait for Maundy Thursday!

6 comments:

The Molly said...

Yeah! it was such a grand night! yeah the revelation of your blog, I am so finally happy to be here in your blogland.
It was so great to have you at poetry on Monday, I have pictures of you roaming with the peacock feather reading Ginsberg amongst little twinkly lights....

rosa said...

Yes! And you and the Cliff added so much to the night! And I'm so glad that I've broken through my shyness that's kept me from the Monday night poet's society-you all are lovely lovely people. I haven't written any poetry I've liked in a long time, so maybe that will come along too...thanks for being an inspiration, Molly!

Franny said...

YESSSS. I wish I'd prepared myself for Epiphany, but I just plain forgot.

I am, however, all over Maundy Thursday. Don't get me started on Shrove Tuesday !

rosa said...

Is that the same as Fat Tuesday? Maybe we should put on a lavish feast and EAT and EAT. I'd show up for church-sanctioned gluttony anyday.

Camille said...

This is a great meditation on why I love Epiphany, too!

sarah said...

i had never known what maundy thursday was until i was 21 and met my lutheran friend/housemate. now i just love saying high church words in sentences-even if i dont celebrate them as i wished i did! i guess i am a high church admirer from afar :)

Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature

  • A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
  • Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
  • Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
  • RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
  • Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
  • Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
  • Sunset Western Garden Book
  • Sunset Western Landscaping Book
  • The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
  • the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
  • The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
  • The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
  • We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations

  • vespertinus: flowers in the evening
  • vernalis:spring
  • veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
  • superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
  • rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
  • placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
  • nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
  • nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
  • muralis: growing on walls
  • mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
  • formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
  • carpe vitam: get a life
  • Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.