Is it time for your Epiphany?

Published 3:30 pm Friday, January 7, 2022

Thursday, January 6, “Epiphany,” was the 12th Day of Christmas – i.e., the 12th day since Christmas and is “officially” the time to take down our decorations.

However, the Catholic Church celebrated Epiphany, Sunday, January 2: “The Solemnity of the Epiphany is celebrated either on January 6, or according to the decision of the Catholic episcopal conference on the Sunday between January 2 and January 8.”    

Normally, I’d wait and take my Christmas decorations down on the traditional 6th, but Fr. Joe Tonos, Pastor, St. John’s Catholic Church, Oxford, requested we keep the Christmas Wreath and Crèche up until after next Sunday, the 9th – so, with Oxford Schools back this past Wednesday, Covid exploding, needing hope, I’ll keep mine up until then as well. 

Perhaps the mere mention of the 12th day of Christmas triggers in your mind the song published in England in 1780 and thought to be French in origin – you know: On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me, a partridge in a pear tree…two turtle doves, three French hens, four calling birds, five gold rings, six geese a-laying, seven swans a-swimming, eight maids a-milking, nine ladies dancing, 10 lords a-leaping, 11 pipers piping, and 12 drummers drumming…!

More importantly, it’s the Solemnity of the Epiphany of our Lord.  An epiphany is a sudden experience of something becoming clear, a paradigm shift in ones thinking – a gestalt! Sunday’s Epiphany is the commemoration of the Magi (three kings) arriving in Bethlehem and manifesting to the world that this baby (Jesus) is an incarnate divine being (taking on human flesh) born of the human Virgin Mary, and immaculately conceived by the Holy Spirit.

At the Epiphany Mass in 2019, Pope Francis said the Magi’s gifts teach us three things:  “Gold means God must be given the first place and that we must adore Him.  Frankincense, symbolizing our relationship with the Lord, is an invitation to burn some time in prayer.  And myrrh, which will be used to perfume Jesus’ dead body in the tomb, shows us the importance of helping our suffering brothers and sisters.” 

The word “epiphany” is one of my favorites and I will forever associate it (first religiously) but humorously with Ole Miss.  Before becoming Director of MBA Career Services in the Ole Miss School of Business Administration, I was Assistant Director of our Ole Miss Career Center in Martindale and among my many duties taught a Career Development class for undergraduates where I challenged my students to contemplate their natural skills and interests in discerning a major, rather than what their parents wanted them to do.  

After class one day, a student excitedly announced to me that during class she had a profound “Epiphany” and was changing her major from marketing to elementary education!   I have loved this happening forever….

So … is it time for your epiphany?  Are you content in your current major/job, or is it time for change?  There is no better opportunity than now to re-evaluate where you are – New Year 2022, which brings a promise of fresh air, hope that it will be better than years past!  But – it ain’t going to happen on its own – perhaps it’s time to take a deep breath, and a risk….   

When I was teaching BUS 390 to 120 seniors in the Ole Miss School of Business Administration as part of my duties as Director of MBA Career Service, from many of my syllabus “Steve Sayings “ and own advice favorites, “Take a risk – if one never takes a risk, one gains nothing.”   

“To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.  To weep is to risk being called sentimental.  To reach out to another is to risk involvement.  To expose feelings is to risk showing your true self.  To place your ideas and your dreams before a crowd is to risk being called naive.  To love is to risk not being loved in return.  To live is to risk dying. To hope is to risk despair, and to try is to risk failure.  But risks must be taken, because the greatest risk in life is to risk nothing.  A person, who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing.  They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.  Chained by things that are certain, they are a slave.  They have forfeited their freedom.  Only the person who risks is truly free” (Author unknown).

Once after a semester had ended, a student came up to me and said he was in my class, had broken up with his girlfriend, missed her, and after hearing me talk about risk, called her.  She missed him too; they got back together, and were soon engaged!  Epiphany – new life, fresh air, take a risk, dive in, you got this, pray for God’s will be done, & Peace Out.

Steve Stricker is an Oxford resident and received his Ph.D. in Counseling from Ole Miss.  He can be reached at sstricke@olemiss.edu.