Epiphany Evening

When Mary was really cold,
she gave an angry kick
to the frankincense jar
(flashy gift, but ultimately useless)
and then she saw it –


“Look what the magi really left us!
I can start this fire with
what fell behind the caravan’s two-toed feet.

“Something ordinary is the only way
to warm a child of God.”

Meanwhile, gingerly settling
on their crabby spitting camels
and talking quietly
about what they had seen and felt,

Melchior said to Gaspar,
“Do you suppose our gifts will help?”
Gaspar shrugged, but Balthasar said
what they were all thinking,

“I hope so, but, O, my hands
feel wonderful now they are empty.”

Tissot, James, 1836-1902. Journey of the Magi, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=56277 . Original source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Magi_tissot.jpg.

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14 Responses to Epiphany Evening

  1. Jessica McArdle says:

    “…my hands feel wonderful now that they are empty.” Profound.
    Had never seen this image before of the Journey of the Magi. Captured my imagination!

  2. I love the way you keep us connected to the realities, Maren. Incense *may* warm the soul, but a camel dung fire will keep the body and soul together.

    • Maren says:

      Thanks. It helps me focus on the realities of folk with whom I minister who have nothing they would identify a gold or frankincense but have so many gifts to give.

  3. smstrouse says:

    Absolutely love this (said I, feeling the camel dung between my fingers)!

  4. I second what Eric said – you find that quirky perspective that both grounds us and illuminates the story in a life giving way.

    • Maren says:

      Thank you. I don’t think I fully realized second half, my sense of how important the empty hands — the power of giving away — has on people.

  5. Deane says:

    This is wonderful and ‘classic Maren,’ your gift for making it real for the reader.

    The gift of giving.

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