“THIRD-CENTURY FRESCOES in Roman catacombs hold the earliest depictions of the Adoration of the Magi. In one, three men advance in a line toward a child standing in his mother’s wide-legged stance, showing her authority. Others reveal the Magi extending platters of bread toward the child Jesus. Another illustrates men with camels approaching Mary and Jesus with gifts. The lead gift-bearer extends a disproportionately large right hand to an encircled star overhead. These are the earliest details of the nativity narrative: travelers, bread, camels, a wide-legged woman, a child, a star. Later portrayals add partially visible soldiers.”–Rose Marie Berger, “Epiphany Is a Time for Imaginative Leaps,” Sojourners (Jan 2020)
From the poem “1983” (in Lo & Behold: Household and Threshold on California’s North Coast) by California poet Joanne Kyger
Crossing the Pacific by observing the clues in sea bird behavior,
……the signals of wind drift and current set,
…………and knowing the many hundreds of chants
………………in which star navigation courses are set.
“And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.”–Matthew 2:12
Poet Annie Deppe sent this Epiphany Day photo taken from her living room window on the Connemara coast of Western Ireland. (Their Christmas was punctuated by severe storms and hurricane-force winds.) Like her writing (Sitting In The Sky, Wren Cantata), her photo provides a lovely visual reminder that sometimes we are called by dreams to “return home by a different way” (Matthew 2:12).
But what was it that induced them to worship? For neither was the Virgin conspicuous, nor the house distinguished, nor was any other of the things which they saw apt to amaze or attract them. Yet they not only worship, but also “open their treasures,” and “offer gifts;” and gifts, not as to a man, but as to God. For the frankincense and the myrrh were a symbol of this. What then was their inducement? That which wrought upon them to set out from home and to come so long a journey; and this was both the star, and the illumination wrought of God in their mind, guiding them by little and little to the more perfect knowledge.– John Chrysostom (c.347-407), homily on Matthew 2:2