On this – the feast of the Epiphany, held in the West to be the end of the Christmas festivities, I drive around Sheffield doing chores and peering through the ubiquitous fog. The word epiphany comes from the Greek, to show, to reveal, to manifest, the feast recalls the visit of the Magi, as the carol has it; three kings from the orient. In the Christian narrative, these kingly and magical figures receive the revelation that a king greater than their regal, star following selves is before them, born into poverty, refugee status and humility.
I have to say given the constant grey weather in Sheffield, days and days without sun or even the crisp winter cold, I have little sense of being shone upon. This poem that I wrote six or seven years ago reminds me that somewhere hidden in this dismal new year is a renewed calling. At that time I had allowed it to be swamped by running after other people, from guru’s to the needy. Do not read me wrong here, I don’t mean we ought to ignore the needs of others or the wisdom of sagacious voices. I believe we all have an inner voice drawing us inward so that when we move out into the world our work stems from an authentic and courageous gambling on who we deeply are. This year I have felt the breath of anxiety on my neck, sometimes literally, I think once you have experienced some kind of breakdown you never completely shake the fear that it will happen again. It makes me feel a fraud to even put fingers to keyboard and record my thoughts as if I was worth reading. But that’s what anxiety and depression do, they undermine and lie to you about who you ultimately are. So this year I am listening for the inner voice again -this time to be found in sailing forth into a new term under the steerage of a gentler voice. As Walt Whitman has it in his poem The Untold Want:-
The untold want, by life and land ne’er granted,
Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.
Holiday keeps the world at bay,
cossets, comforts each quiet day.
A safe house, Yule log warming,
the easy Christmas yawning.
Now a new year, waking under dawn,
hearing the dark morning’s scorn.
‘Calling, please, what is my calling
and whose burdens am I hauling?’
Time to look at the faded year
to be candid, direct, and clear.
I have been trading myself,
my precious animating health,
for a work of worthy deeds
in the name of other’s needs.
If I am to serve the tender fire
and rouse my dormant desire,
I need to live from the inside,
to serenely, firmly brush aside
the tyrannical phone’s demand,
to be the work of a gentler hand.
Not swirl the whirl of other’s schemes,
but rather live my given dreams.