Sunday, January 07, 2007


Today the gift of an epiphany star came to me as I sat on a hard, wooden pew with my head throbbing. The headache (which is still not entirely gone) had been so bad as my mom and I were getting ready to get in the car that I'd almost turned back. It seems that I find myself increasingly headache prone these days, which is particularly annoying considering that there was a time when it was a rarity for me to get one. To the inventor of chocolate, you have my highest regards. To the inventor of headaches, I offer simply the infamous Italianate chin flicking gesture.

Whether head throbbing came from stress, the onset of a cold (or is it catarrh???), or having slept wrong (how does that happen? it seems that if there's one thing that should be pretty fool proof, it's sleeping) is still unclear. Whatever the cause was, my head hurt so bad that it woke me up at an ungodly hour this morning. And that hurt so bad that I really was in no mood to go anywhere when 10:30 rolled around. Somehow (mostly because my mother was obviously keen to go, but being so gracious about potentially not going), I managed to drag my sorry self into the car and then into church, where I found myself sitting on said pew as epiphany stars were being handed out.

Each of these stars is inscribed with a word. My word for the year is "surprise". As it turned out, I did find myself feeling surprised at how good it felt to be there despite feeling bad. There was such a light, pleasant mood today - a mood I would never have even begun to approach, had I followed my inclination to burrow under a blanket like a very large rodent.

And so, I've spent the hours since thinking about surprises and how easily a small shift in attitude can change a situation about which we're experiencing dread, fear or even just ambivalence into one that can actually be enjoyed. It makes me think of all the ways in which we might surprise ourselves, if we took the time to (as Mark Twain wrote): "...throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

For today, that is the meaning of my epiphany star, but who knows? Maybe when the year has passed I will be surprised to find that it wasn't that at all. But if it is and if I can manage to "sail", I don't think I will regret it.

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