As I’ve been thinking about the meaning of “Epiphany,” I’ve felt myself being pulled steadily toward a somewhat fantastic, epic perspective on the subject.
Instinctively I’ve resisted, because I don’t like to trivialize truth by applying too much gloss. I’d rather begin with the nitty-gritty, the undeniable, the black and white—and if the trail leads to a panoramic, bright-hued vista, and all our heartstrings start humming, well OK. As long as we got there honestly.
But with epiphany, you almost have to start at the overlook. It’s like C.S. Lewis writes:
All day I have been tossed and whirled in a preposterous happiness;
Was it an elf in the blood? Or a bird in the brain? Or even part
Of the cloudily crested, fifty-league-long, loud uplifted wave
Of a journeying angel’s transit roaring over and through my heart?…
…The color of my day was like a peacock’s chest…
Who knows if ever it will come again, now the day closes?
No-one can give me, or take away, that key. All depends
On the elf, the bird or the angel. I doubt if the angel himself
Is free to choose when sudden heaven in man begins or ends.- C.S Lewis, Poems
How does one “step away” and “gain distance” from something like this? When one encounters God in a direct, irrefutable way, the only way to gain perspective is to step forward bravely and enter the mystery.
And the mystery of epiphany is great.
How do we go about tracing the edges of God-experience? In one sense, we can’t—any more then we can “prepare” ourselves to stumble across a hundred dollar bill in the gutter.
And yet there are questions we could ask. Questions like:
Who experiences epiphany?
What is it like?
How can I get ready? (Or can I?)
Give them some thought; I will too. And with a little luck, we’ll have a meeting of the minds sometime soon.