Friday, January 6, 2012


Three years ago I parked my car in a gravel lot on a cold winter morning, walked a short downtown block, and knocked loudly on a battered door.  The door opened onto a narrow hallway lined with dilapidated chairs filled with men and women dressed in layers, backpacks at their feet, Styrofoam cups of steaming coffee in their hands.   Dozens of others were coming in and out of bathrooms, carrying worn towels, small pieces of soap, tiny packets of shampoo, a clean and dry pair of socks.  The phone was ringing, voices shouting out names for mail to be picked up, a ring of people at the front desk waiting to ask a question, find an answer, hands out for vitamins, cough drops, ibuprofen. 

It was not lost on me then, nor is it today, that it was Epiphany.  The day of appearing, of revealing on the church calendar that over the years has also become my internal calendar: wise people traveling in search of one they believed could change things in their world, so long ago.  For me, that day, that cold winter day in the very first days of 2009, I began a job I did not understand and was not even sure I wanted.  It would be a “good experience,” I was sure.  I believed wholly in the vision and mission of the agency, and knew it would serve me well as a stopping place, a transition place while I waited for the next pulpit to appear.

 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… --Jan Richardson, from For Those Who Have Far to Travel: An Epiphany Blessing

Much has appeared in the last three years, even more has been revealed.  I have seen Jesus, again and again, revealed in the lost and the least, appearing in the unending compassion of my co-workers day after day.  It’s messy and hard and stunning and beautiful.  That steady pulpit has not appeared, my robes and stoles and boxes of commentaries are packed away.   Not one thing in my life looks the way I had believed and trusted it would when I first walked that downtown block and opened that battered door.  If I could have seen the breadth of the journey of these last three years, I might have run the other way.  Step by step, though, I have lived these three years in the only ways I knew how.  Some days I get it right, at work and beyond.  Other days I don’t.   I’m not waiting for that steady pulpit anymore.  I have found the sanctuary where I am supposed to be.

I am overwhelmingly grateful.  Grateful that I walked through that door three years ago, grateful that I still get to walk through that door each day, grateful for the Jesus who keeps appearing, again and again and again to me.  In that building, through so many people, in a thousand ways.

It’s Epiphany.  Light comes.